Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Prolonged Sitting Each Day Associated With Increased Health Risks Regardless Of Exercise Amounts

January 13, 2023

Americans have become increasingly sedentary with marked reductions in daily, recreational, and occupational activities. The majority of occupations in today’s society have become reliant on the computer requiring employees to sit for the majority of the work day. In recent years, researchers have highlighted the adverse health risks including diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and early risk of death found among individuals who sit for prolonged periods of time each day. Research studies have since evolved from this correlation to showing sitting as an independent risk factor for health risks irrespective of an individual’s overall health. In short, prolonged sitting alone may be cause of adverse health risks. A recent study documented the associated between sitting and health risk while controlling for other health variables.

A well designed study in the Annals of Internal Medicine was conducted to determine between sitting, activity levels, and health risks (Diaz et al. 2017). Authors performed a cohort study on close to 8,000 American adults over the age of 45. They measured activity and sedentary time using a hip mounted accelerometer. Authors followed these individuals for a median of 4 years tracking activity, health, and death rates. Over the course of the study 340 participants died. Consistent with prior research studies greater sedentary time and longer individual bouts of sedentary behavior were both correlated with adverse health risks and higher risk of early death. Authors reported both these sedentary behaviors, including sitting greater than 12 hours a day, increased an individuals risk regardless of outside physical activity levels.

This study highlights the importance of reducing prolonged bouts of sitting time with frequent breaks. Sitting all day except for a hard workout is not enough to eliminate the health risks of prolonged sitting.

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