Sitting for long hours has been linked to adverse health effects, but findings of a new study suggest people can reduce health risks of sitting too much with exercise.

Too Much Sitting Linked To Heart Disease

Earlier studies have shown that people who spend a lot of time sitting are at higher risk of developing heart disease. They are also likely to have shorter life span.

In a new study involving nearly 150,000 adults, researchers have found that people can avoid these consequences by fitting in exercise whenever possible.

Emmanuel Stamatakis, from the University of Sydney in Australia, and colleagues asked participants who were all 45 years and older to complete a questionnaire about the number of hours they spend per day on sitting, standing and sleeping.

The researchers also asked the participants about the total amount of time they spend on walking or participating in moderate or vigorous physical activity.

Replacing Sitting With Physical Activity Reduces Mortality Risk

During the follow-up period, Stamatakis and colleagues found that those who spend more than six hours sitting had higher mortality risk from cardiovascular disease and other causes, but these were mostly people who got little exercises. Those who replaced their sitting with physical activity apparently reduced their mortality risk.

The researchers found that in people who sit a lot, those who replaced one hour of sitting with vigorous activities such as swimming, aerobics, and tennis saw a 64 percent reduction in risk of dying from heart disease.

Replacing one hour of sitting with moderate physical activity like strenuous gardening and housework also slashed the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 20 percent.

Some Exercise Better Than No Exercise

The study shows that engaging in some exercise is better than having no exercise at all.

"Exercise and sports are a great way to be active but are not the only way - walking fast, climbing stairs, and cycling to get from place to place are only some of the many opportunities everyday life offers to move and even 'huff and puff' sometimes," Stamatakis said.

The findings were published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology  on April 16.

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