By: Dr. Al Sears, MD
I know it’s kind of a necessity to sit at a computer these days.
But sitting for long periods of time, whether it’s in front of a screen or otherwise, can be deadly.
I’ve seen what a sedentary lifestyle does to people because I treat them every day. But what the Annals of Internal Medicine found shocked even me.
The journal did an analysis where they looked at the results of over 40 other studies. Each study looked at risk of disease and early death for people who sit for long periods of time compared with those who don’t, and the effects of exercise on both.
They found that if you sit for very long periods of time, even if you interrupt that with a vigorous workout, you’re still around 16% more likely to die of any cause than people who don’t sit for very long periods at a time.(1)
That agrees with some harsh numbers from a study out of the National Cancer Institute.
They looked at more than 240,000 people, ages 50-71 years old. None had cancer or heart disease when the study started. They followed the people for eight and a half years.
People who were sedentary for more than 7 hours a day – even if they exercised every day – had a 61% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and a 22% higher risk of dying from cancer compared to those who were sedentary for less than an hour.(2)
Sitting in general is associated with a higher risk of dying ALL causes.
And for people who don’t exercise at all, the risks skyrocket. A 47% greater risk of dying from all causes, and a 100% greater chance of dying from cardiovascular disease. 100 percent!
That backs up an earlier study done in Australia that looked at almost 9000 people. It found that even after they adjusted for exercise people who sat and watched TV for more than four hours a day had a 46% higher risk of dying from all causes. The risk of dying from cardiovascular disease went up 80%.(3)
Regular exertion does make up for some of this.
The AIN analysis did find what I’ve always suspected to be true. People who get regular physical activity but still spend a large proportion of their day sitting are much less likely to die of any cause compared to those who get little to no exercise. 30% less likely, according to the study.
That’s why I give everyone who works for me an opportunity to get up and walk around, and especially go outside for a bit every day.
Plus, we’ve built a small studio in my new center where we’ve begun holding yoga classes for the staff that begin directly after work.
I recommend you do the same… at the very least, get up and walk around for a few minutes at a time every hour or so, no matter where you are.
Or do like I do and spend 12 minutes doing P.A.C.E.
It can save your life.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
1.Biswas A, et. al. “Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(2):123-132.
2.Matthews C, George S, Moore S, Bowles H, Blair A, Park Y, Troiano R, Hollenbeck A, Schatzkin A. “Amount of time spent in sedentary behaviors and cause-specific mortality in US adults.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;95(2):437-45.
3.Dunstan D., et. al. “Television Viewing Time and Mortality.” Circulation. 2010; 121: 384-391.