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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid