Though “sitting disease” may not yet have the same name recognition as “cardiovascular disease” or “diabetes,” a new study pushes it deeper into regular households. Researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre in Louisiana, US, found that no one is immune from the harmful effects of hours in a chair.
In the study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the researchers looked at risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease, including waist size, body mass index, cholesterol levels and activity levels in 4560 American adults. Subjects were evenly divided between men and women, came from varying socioeconomic levels, and represented multiple ethnic groups, including African-American and Mexican-American.
After controlling for sex, race, economic status, activity level and other factors, they found that prolonged sitting increased a person’s risk for diabetes and heart disease. The increased risk was present in subjects reporting as little as four hours of sitting per day.
The findings not only add to the growing evidence that prolonged sitting is an independent risk factor for health problem, but that nothing protects you from it – not even running – except standing up.
“Adults reporting moderate-to-high amounts of sitting time [four hours or more] had significantly worse cardiometabolic risk factors compared with those adults in the lowest category of sitting time [less than three hours]. The relationship between time spent sitting and adverse risk factors persisted even in models adjusted for demographics, socioeconomic status, medication use, medical history, family medical history and health behaviours, including diet,” the researchers write.
Though diet and exercise didn’t render a person exempt, the researchers add that the association between cardiometabolic risk factors and sitting time were strong in people in who did not exercise.
No “safe” amount of sitting has been established, but a number of studies suggest that people who spend three hours or less per day sitting lowered their risk.