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

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora