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Sitting Too Much? Even Exercise May Not Save You from Disease and Premature Death

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A new research reveals that those spending long hours sitting are at increased risk for certain health conditions and even early death. More alarmingly, engaging in regular exercise does not eliminate these increased health hazards.

For a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on Jan. 19, a group of researchers looked at 47 earlier studies and found that sitting for long hours is associated with significantly increased odds for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and premature death.

Sedentary behavior, in particular, was linked with 15 to 20 percent increased odds for death from any cause and 15 to 20 percent increased risks for cancer, heart disease, death caused by heart disease, and death from cancer.

The risks among those who sit for too long developing diabetes, on the other hand, is as high as 90 percent compared with those who do not. Studies likewise suggest that logging long hours at work in a chair is linked with increased rates of colon, breast, colorectal, and ovarian cancer.

The researchers likewise said that even if the subjects were exercising regularly, the evidence still suggests worse health outcomes for individuals who sit for prolonged periods. This does not necessarily mean that exercising is useless though because those who only exercised a little or did not exercise at all have higher health risks.

Study author Aviroop Biswas, from the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network offered a possible explanation as to why sitting for too long can be detrimental. He said that when we stand, certain muscles in the body work hard to keep us up but the body's metabolism is not as functional when we sit for a long time and this inactivity is linked with many negative effects.

"Hazard ratios associated with sedentary time and outcomes were generally more pronounced at lower levels of physical activity than at higher levels," the researchers wrote. "Prolonged sedentary time was independently associated with deleterious health outcomes regardless of physical activity."

For the study, the researchers defined prolonged sitting as ranging from between eight to 12 hours of sitting per day. The researchers recommended standing up or moving around even for a few minutes every thirty minutes while at the desk. Adopting little changes may also help such as standing instead of sitting while the commercials are shown during your favorite shows and aiming to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting throughout the day.

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