News / Health

Study Suggests Sitting Less Can Extend Life

What’s the best seat in the house? It may be whichever one you use the least. New research suggests that cutting daily sitting time to less than three hours might extend your life by two years.

Humans were designed to move. But modern lifestyles and office jobs rarely prompt us to roam around. Quite the opposite, says Peter Katzmarzyk, an epidemiologist at the University of Louisiana.

"Sitting is ubiquitous in our lives today. You know, we sit while we’re eating, we sit in the car, we sit while we watch TV. And many of sit for many hours at work. So on average, Americans report they sit between four and a half to five hour a day," Katzmarzyk said.

And, he says, those chair-centered days matter to our health, just like exercise.

"We can’t throw away physical activity. It’s extremely important. We have 60 years of research showing us that. But sedentary behavior is also important… Even if you exercise for 30 minutes a day. What goes on in the other 23 and a half hours a day is also very important," Katzmarzyk said.

Katzmarzyk and his colleagues are part of new generation of researchers trying to discover how sitting all day affects our lifespans.

"This is a relatively new area of study… Studies that have assessed the relationship between sitting and mortality or television viewing and mortality are very rare. There’s only been a few of them, actually five or six now, in the last four or five years," said Katzmarzyk.

Karzmarzyk and his colleagues pooled data from these studies, which involved almost 167,000 adults. Then they turned to a government-run survey of Americans to find out exactly how much time people spend sitting and watching TV.

Not only did the team find that U.S. citizens could live longer by sitting less, they found that cutting TV-time to less than two hours a day could add an extra 1.4 years to their lives.

People who’ve spent half their waking lives sitting down might well ask, “Is it ever too late to make a change?”

"That’s a good question. Physical activity data would say “No. It’s never too late.”  Physical activity is good for you at every age. We don’t know that yet about sitting. But one might assume it to be similar," Katzmarzyk said.

Change is already afoot in some offices, especially when it comes to desk designs.

"That’s one of the strategies that many companies are using now. They may have got five standing desks for their employees or a treadmill desk. I’ve heard of other companies where they may not have a desk for every person. But they’ll have a bank of these desks where people can go for an hour a day and answer their emails or talk on the phone," Katzmarzyk said.

Katzmarzyk says simply studying this problem has inspired his team to make a few changes in their own lives.

"As a university professor, you know, it is a very sedentary occupation. We’re chained to a desk in terms of writing papers and doing research. We really try to limit the amount of time we spend doing that, said Katzmarzyk.

Katzmarzyk and his team recommend a few simple changes:  frequently getting up from your desk, taking walks at lunch time, and instead of e-mailing colleagues,  walking over to their offices and talking face-to-face - all activities that can be enjoyable as well as life-extending.  Research on the benefits of reduced daily sitting time is published in the online journal, BMJ Open.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid