Brazilian researchers who analyzed data from 54 countries linked sitting for more than three hours a day to 3.8 percent of deaths from all causes. Limiting sitting time to less than three hours a day would increase a person’s life expectancy by an average of 0.2 years — or more than two months, the researchers said.
The study adds to growing evidence that too much sitting is a health threat, and that even regular exercise may not be enough to counter the harmful effects of prolonged sitting, the researchers said. Their report appeared online in advance of the August print issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The study authors estimated the effects of less time spent sitting, regardless of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Even a modest, 10 percent reduction in sitting time — for instance, 30 fewer minutes a day — could have an immediate impact, the researchers said.
“Bolder changes [for instance, 50 percent decrease or two fewer hours] would represent at least three times fewer deaths versus the 10 percent or 30-minute reduction scenarios,” lead investigator Leandro Rezende said in a journal news release. Rezende is with the department of preventive medicine at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine, in Brazil.
Despite a growing body of research showing the dangers of too much sitting, it’s difficult to get people to make changes, the researchers added.
“Although sitting is an intrinsic part of human nature, excessive sitting is very common in modern societies,”Rezende said.
Labor-saving devices, long commutes and homes in areas that lack support for active lifestyles contribute to the problem, he added.