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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More