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July 22nd, 2010
04:38 PM ET

Sitting, even after workout, can cut lifespan


A new study debunks the theory that an hour of exercise a day is all you need to live a long life. Turns out, people who spend more time sitting during their leisure time have an increased risk of death, regardless of daily exercise.

American Cancer Society researchers tracked the activity levels and death rates in more than 123,000 healthy men and women for 13 years. They found women who spend over six hours a day sitting during leisure time (watching TV, playing games, surfing the web, reading) were 40 percent more likely to die sooner than women who spend less than three hours sitting. Men who spend more time sitting have a 20 percent increased risk of death. Essentially, those who sit less, live a longer life than those who don't.

Several factors come into play when figuring out “why” sitting may take years off your life.

The first may seem like common sense. The more time you spend sitting, the more likely you are to passively eat snacks or consume high calories drinks resulting in unhealthy weight gain. But this isn’t always the case. Sedentary obese and normal weight Americans had similar increased risk of death in the study.

Prolonged time sitting suppresses your immune system, which may increase the risk of cancer and other diseases. And your blood isn’t circulating as it should when you’re sedentary for long periods of time. When blood doesn’t flow thru your veins up to your heart, it could lead to dangerous blood clot. It also has metabolic consequences – increasing your resting blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Researchers say the metabolic effect may explain why the association was strongest for cardiovascular disease mortality in the study.

The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemology suggests, “public health guidelines should be refined to include reducing time spent sitting in addition to promoting physical activity.”

So as you keep your brain stimulated with your smart phones, video games and gadgets, wireless apps and paperless books – walk around or stand up while playing your favorite game. You may add years to your life.


soundoff (341 Responses)
  1. fish192

    At this rate without an office job, the gov't will have to pay me longer for retirement. So a call to the gov't...wouldn't it be better if you (Obama Administration) built a job infrastructure (like China) so I can die sooner?!?!

    July 22, 2010 at 21:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Thislady25

    Really interesting. Seriously, though, check for grammer and spelling. THRU?

    July 22, 2010 at 21:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mr. Deltoid

      "Thru" is actually acceptable according to Merriam Webster and http://www.dictionary.com. However, the word "grammer" (the word you used above) is not acceptable. Why don't you use spell check? Open mouth, insert foot...

      July 22, 2010 at 22:20 | Report abuse |
  3. Steve

    How do we know the percentage of those in this study who are sedentary BECAUSE they already have health problems? Gee. Do you think that might just BIAS the results?

    July 22, 2010 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ideasideas

      Bias or no...it is common sense that being physically active is, overall, good for your health. We aren't plants rooted to one place, we are 'built' for moving. I am amazed this article has 'enlightened' so many.

      July 22, 2010 at 21:53 | Report abuse |
  4. Michael

    I don't buy it. There are so many factors that go into longevity that it's impossible to calculate the risk of long-term sitting. Forty and twenty percent does not a conclusion make.

    July 22, 2010 at 21:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mike

    I donate and do charity bike rides for the ACS. If this is the kind of garbage they are wasting our money on then I'm going to have to rethink my charitable contributions.

    July 22, 2010 at 21:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Morgan

    This article reads like the average middle schooler wrote it. The editor should be ashamed. "Thru"? Seriously?

    July 22, 2010 at 21:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mr. Deltoid

      Yes, seriously. "Thru," according to Merriam Webster's online dictionary, as well as http://www.dictionary.com is a variant of the word "through," and therefore is perfectly acceptable.

      July 22, 2010 at 22:36 | Report abuse |
  7. ideasideas

    For those desk jobs...I hear sitting on exercise balls instead of regular chairs is supposed to be beneficial to your health. Not only do they improve posture, but you're flexing your muscles to balance all day long. It is a corny idea, but they ARE comfortable. If it can help improve your lifespan, I think it's worth a shot! Notice appropriate use of you're and your....haha!

    July 22, 2010 at 21:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Mr Rick

    Watching inter-web pron gets my blood flowing thru my viens!

    July 22, 2010 at 21:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. whatnext

    If this doesn't work they'll try the next step: Sitting Causes Cancer.

    July 22, 2010 at 21:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. cassarit

    Blood flows "thru" ?
    Who is writing these artickles?

    July 22, 2010 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mr. Deltoid

      "Thru," according to Merriam Webster's online dictionary, as well as http://www.dictionary.com is a variant of the word "through," and therefore is perfectly acceptable. But I looked up a word you used in your post: "artickles." I could not find that word in the dictionary. Did you just make it up? Pretty cool! Will you teach me some more new ones?

      July 22, 2010 at 22:23 | Report abuse |
  11. hawaiikaos

    Does how you sit have an effect? If there is a gender difference, maybe the different pelvic/circulation anatomy comes into play. Maybe simply changing posture changes the outcome. If you are a cyclist, or use an exercise bike, is that included?

    Obviously being sedentary ups your risk, but does sitting itself cause the problem? Does lying down cause a problem?

    July 22, 2010 at 22:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Akian

    HAHA I'm screwed. I lost both legs in a motor cycle accident at 19. All I do is sit.

    July 22, 2010 at 22:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Itsall Tuna

      35 years using a wheelchair. More likely to die getting hit by a taxi crossing the street. Oh, yeah, point proved. I'd be sitting at the time.

      July 22, 2010 at 22:13 | Report abuse |
  13. jeannettelj

    Why don't we all just shoot ourselves now? No matter we do someone, somewhere says that it will shorten our lives. Personally, I think your genetics have more to do with your life-span than anything else.

    July 22, 2010 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Itsall Tuna

    Article said nothing about differences in life expectancy. A different study links left-handedness to a shorter life span for men over 85. Give me 85 years and I'll keep my left-handedness. I think that this study just suggests that more people die sitting down or getting up quickly. Stay out of the bathroom, too, because it is the most dangerous room in the house. Most automobile accident deaths happen within 25 miles of home. So move.

    July 22, 2010 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. whut

    That's a HOT chick in that picture sitting down...I'd do her.

    July 22, 2010 at 22:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • grofys

      you're too late; she's dead from sitting.

      July 22, 2010 at 22:32 | Report abuse |
    • Abe

      SoundOff WIN

      July 25, 2010 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
  16. Lorenz

    Another study that simply shows what we don't know. Immune system boost, blood clots, cholesterol, etc. ... all after-the-fact rationalizations to help us understand what we just don't – at least not yet. The Taoists consider good health to be the result of energy flow, which includes blood, hormones, neurotransmitors, etc. but if any Westerner delves into Taoist terminology (heat, cold, wind, moisture) they're turned off by a lack of "science". But what does western "science" really mean? Can we truly measure the human body like we can quantum physics? Or is this really empirical, despite pedigreed and certifiable clinical certainty? One problem is the arrogance implicit in our staunch defense of so-called rational science. Yeah, we know exactly what works... just check out the latest John Hopkins or Duke study on vitamins or amino acids. Yeah, right...

    July 22, 2010 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jennylee

      I appreciate you taking to time to contribute That\'s very hleufpl.

      December 27, 2011 at 01:02 | Report abuse |
    • yzhxaqfgmu

      D4h3eM ulwjgstjpeli

      December 28, 2011 at 04:42 | Report abuse |
  17. lucidguy

    What if I sit while I'm at work too? Am I pretty much a dead man? I hate these "studies"! Seriously, there is some crap I'd rather not know. How about, leave me alone and let me live whatever life I have left without trying to worry me to death?!

    July 22, 2010 at 22:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. sevres Blue

    So basically we should cut out the TV, AND the internet.... and live longer. Probably a lot to that.

    July 22, 2010 at 22:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. scorpio

    Thats bs....that just like saying people in wheelchairs wont live that long

    July 22, 2010 at 22:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • grofys

      i have read that people confined to wheelchairs don't live as long as people who are ambulatory.

      July 22, 2010 at 22:34 | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      I think people in wheelchairs having shorter lives is probably because they do often live more sedentary lives, not just because they're sitting. I mean, perfectly able Americans are bad enough. I doubt getting stuck in a wheelchair is going to motivate them to exercise more.

      July 22, 2010 at 22:58 | Report abuse |
    • nanobot

      It's a well established fact that sitting restricts blood flow. When women are pregnant, after 6 months of gestation, they are not supposed to sit for a duration of longer than about 2 hours at a time because of the liklihood of blood clots in the legs. Of course, they can't be given the standard blood thinners. They are at higher risk because they are pregnant and the pressure reduces blood flow on the aorta, but this effect is furthered by sitting. That's just common knowledge.

      July 27, 2010 at 16:35 | Report abuse |
  20. Super D

    Of course, this article fails to mention that when you're not sitting you're most likely doing something active thus giving your body some exercise. When you're sitting, however, you're just vegitating.

    July 22, 2010 at 22:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Deklin

    So I guess sleeping is bad for you too. Apparently it lowers blood-flow and increases clot risk and metabolism. I guess the people that live the longest only sleep 2 hours a night so they can stay active more?? Studies like this are bunk.

    July 22, 2010 at 22:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • nanobot

      WRONG. Sleeping is necessary for consolidation of memory and reduction of stress hormones such as cortisol. It has already been widely reported, even in the dummy news, that people who get less sleep are at a higher risk of heart attack, probably due to higher epinephrine levels, blood pressure, lower serotonin and higher platelet activation.

      July 27, 2010 at 16:38 | Report abuse |
  22. grofys

    i wonder if sitting in rocking chairs makes a difference. i can't stand to sit; i'm always moving my legs. that's why i love rocking chairs. maybe it doesn't make a difference. also, i wonder how many hours a day people in blue zones sit.

    July 22, 2010 at 22:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. thth

    Not to mention the claim that "Men . . . have a 20% increased risk of death." Wow–20% greater than 100%??

    July 22, 2010 at 22:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. cliff

    So I guess I should stand up put down my beer and stop reading these comments where people are debating the use of contractions and other grammatical faux pas. Nah I'm good, thanks anyway CNN.com.

    July 22, 2010 at 22:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. scorpio

    @grofys thats bs my aunt is 86yrs old and in a wheelchair

    July 22, 2010 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • grofys

      i often wondered, when i read they have a shorter life expectancy, if it had something to do with the condition that has confined them to the wheelchair rather than just the confinement.

      July 22, 2010 at 22:55 | Report abuse |
  26. jennyisdead

    I agree with cincydiane. Really I think fear is the number one killer here, not sitting on our bottoms all day. It doesn't benefit us to lead a sedentary lifestyle, but we shouldn't be taken by fear with each new report we read. Eventually everything will be bad for us. It was interesting to read about the possible immune suppression, though, and its relation to cancer. Btw, if anyone is reading this and wants to know what they can do prevent cancer....eat raw almonds each day. Believe me, this is the only food that will actually prevent cancer. You can thank me later when Science discovers this after I'm gone. Pay particular attention to the cancer/cholesterol relationship. Love, your psychic friend.

    July 22, 2010 at 22:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alex

      I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of these articles are blown out of proportion. Fear sells after all.

      July 22, 2010 at 22:53 | Report abuse |
    • nanobot

      VERY TRUE: Fear is a deadly emotional state. People who have anxiety disorders, such as PTSD have such an imbalance of hormones that they can barely function. In normal people, I don't think it's necessary to "worry" as you are suggesting that some harm will come to the public by telling them they should actually get out and off the couch because it's affecting their health. I don't think that is fear mongering. Usually, the truth, enables people to overcome what insidious fears they might have. They feel more IN CONTROL of their lives.

      July 27, 2010 at 16:43 | Report abuse |
  27. Phil

    Sitting and reduced lifespan

    July 22, 2010 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. scorpio

    Dont let the media scare you....that goes for everybody

    July 22, 2010 at 22:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. John

    Science is great, now I know I can't even relax without killing myself.

    July 22, 2010 at 22:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • nanobot

      Best scenario: Get 8 hours of good quallity sleep and don't cut it short. When you are up, be active. Keep a circadium rhythm for the health of your brain which is controling all of this stuff to begin with.

      July 27, 2010 at 18:07 | Report abuse |
  30. stigglitz

    This article is a dumbed down 'summary' of the original which appeared at sciencedaily.com. The more sedentary women were 37% more likely to die during the period of the study than the less sedentary women (>6hrs a day sitting vs. <3hrs).

    July 22, 2010 at 22:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • nanobot

      NEWSFLASH: Sciencedaily is not the original. It is in fact a dumbed down summary. The original would be in a peer reviewed journal which would be available in abstract form at http://www.pubmed.gov unless you have an academic subscription or if it's publication has been funded by the NIH, which much of the very best research is. Pubmed is indispensible because it links related subject matter and you can find yourself on a virtual safari of cutting edge information.

      July 27, 2010 at 18:13 | Report abuse |
  31. Alex

    Eh, 20 percent increase of risk of death isn't so bad. 😛 Personally, I don't think results for such studies are anywhere near as conclusive as people think they are. Just because they found a seeming correlation between sitting and death, doesn't prove anything. Of course, a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy, but I'm not convinced that the simple act of sitting for any amount of time is harmful to anyone.

    July 22, 2010 at 22:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • thth

      Yes, I had always assumed that my risk of death was 100%. So I'm willing to risk a 20% increase on that.

      July 22, 2010 at 22:57 | Report abuse |
  32. Isabel Siaba (Brazil)

    Whenever I can, I try to walk. Despite living in a big city, this is a way not to be so sedentary.

    Great article. Thank you!

    July 22, 2010 at 22:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. scorpio

    @ grofys yeah u right about that

    July 22, 2010 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Zach

    alright, i'll just stand for the rest of my life

    July 22, 2010 at 23:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. SLM

    Such an "uplifting" article for those confined to a wheelchair. Bet you made their day.

    July 22, 2010 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. rdh

    Oh my, what a discussion this generated. There are so many factors involved in health, don't let one CNN blog make you think you're going to die because you sit. Life is about having balance.....eating well, getting exercise, sleep. Take it with a grain of salt people.

    July 22, 2010 at 23:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. jezza

    Nice stock photo of an ancient PowerBook G4 12" 🙂

    July 22, 2010 at 23:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • nanobot

      LOL. Wasn't looking at the G4. : O

      July 27, 2010 at 18:14 | Report abuse |
  38. Wonder

    If that's case, then every companies should bve thinking about removing chairs and everyone stands and does business.

    July 22, 2010 at 23:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Wonder

    I think this study needs further improvement. What if you sit (because of work, study) often, but then you also spend other time walking . This study didn't tell us: is it soley sitting and no standing/walking/exercise that contributing to the chances shorten one's life? what about the proportion of sitting and standind? Did the study experiemnt that?

    July 22, 2010 at 23:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Herbys

    "Women that spend more time sitting are 40% more likely to die sooner". That statement is as unscientific as it gets. It means nothing. "sooner" means nothing in this context. If it said "soon" it might be at least syntactically correct, even though it would still mean nothing.

    July 22, 2010 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • havepittyonMr. Deltoid

      cmn!! its common sense..

      July 22, 2010 at 23:41 | Report abuse |
  41. Greg

    Take the results of any study with a grain of salt. As a PhD and electrical engineer, my father sat for a living solving technical problems with software, he is now 74 with clear arteries and never felt better. Yesterday, a Silver Lake icon, the Walking Man, passed away. He was a medical doctor aged 54, who, for the last 30 years, walked 15 miles a day, every day, rain or shine and did not sit much at his job.

    July 22, 2010 at 23:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cynthia

      Well said Greg; sometimes the healthiest people die unexpectedly. Everything in moderation, everthing.

      July 23, 2010 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
    • nanobot

      @Greg One major factor in heart disease which is proven in the evidence but is not being reported to the general public is that bacteria actually live in the vascular endothelium of the arteries which causes inflammation, activation of platelets and the proliferation of the lipidemic, atherosclerotic state. You have to consider that the doctor had exposure to Mycoplasma pneumonia, Chlamydia spp. and Helicobacter pylori due to his line of work. There are multiple species of each genus and studies have shown the more numerous species which infect the endothelium, the worse the outcome. This is why studies targeting one single organism has not found a tight link. These also infect the endothelium of the brain supply and are likely the cause of desert storm fever, but that is a topic for another blog. Sorry to say, your comparison of an engineer who was protected from communicable exposure and was sedentary to an active physician who had marked exposure to communicable agents involved in cardiovascular pathology cannot be made. Significant confounding variables exist.

      July 27, 2010 at 16:29 | Report abuse |
    • nanobot

      Being a physician is a health risk due to exposure to communicable diseases which aid in the occurence of cardiovascular disease. And, hospitals are NOT kept clean anymore.

      July 27, 2010 at 18:17 | Report abuse |
  42. havepittyonMr. Deltoid

    y dont you shot all of them on their heads Mr. Deltoid... lol

    July 22, 2010 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. kazz

    duh?

    July 22, 2010 at 23:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. ash

    So is someone at home, sitting, for part of a day less likely to die by drunk or texting driver? If so, how much less likely? All these stupid games. Actually, all of my jobs involved sitting and, at 71, am I beating the odds?

    July 22, 2010 at 23:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Mikey Boom-Boom

    Just stupid... i this rock that keeps tigers away. -No that's not true- Do you see any tigers? -Nope- Well I guess it works.

    July 22, 2010 at 23:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. krayxience

    Is there a greater risk to students ?

    July 22, 2010 at 23:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. smoothy

    I'm standing while typing this

    July 22, 2010 at 23:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Silas Scarborough

    This is sure to be a big hit on the social networks. Use Facebook and die (laughs)

    July 23, 2010 at 00:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Eric

    "When blood doesn’t flow thru your veins up " i didn't expect this kind of grammatical mistake from a cnn article? "thru your veins?"

    July 23, 2010 at 00:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Anonymous

    Give me a reason to WANT to live longer, and I'll pay better attention to articles like this one. It's a "tale told by an idiot", as is partially evidenced by the grammatical errors above (surreptitiously corrected later on). Read the news and you'll see that life is focused on avoiding cancer, wearing pink ribbons, worrying about cell phone dangers, and blaming Obama for the oil spill. I'm all for living the way I want to, until I wear out.

    July 23, 2010 at 00:33 | Report abuse | Reply
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