Sitting too much can increase early death risk, study confirms

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In a world where sedentary lifestyles are increasingly common, a significant study sheds new light on the risks of prolonged sitting, especially for older women.

The Journal of the American Heart Association recently published a study demonstrating a startling link between extended periods of sitting and an increased risk of death by 30 percent among older women, challenging the notion that exercise alone can offset the dangers of sedentary behavior.

The study, led by Steve Nguyen, Ph.D., M.P.H., utilized advanced technology to more accurately measure sitting time and activity levels.

Researchers equipped 6,489 women, aged 63 to 99, with hip devices that tracked their movements and sitting patterns for up to seven days, following them for eight years to monitor mortality outcomes.

This research is groundbreaking, not only for its findings but also for its methodology. Nguyen employed a novel, machine-learned algorithm known as CHAP to distinguish between sitting and standing periods more accurately than previous studies.

This precision allowed the team to explore the relationship between total sitting time, the duration of sitting bouts, and health risks in unprecedented detail.

The study’s findings underscore the negative effects of sedentary behavior, which diminishes muscle contractions, blood flow, and glucose metabolism.

Surprisingly, the research indicates that these effects are not mitigated by exercise; regardless of whether the women engaged in low or high levels of physical activity, the risk remained elevated if they sat for long periods.

The advice stemming from this study is clear: to mitigate health risks, reducing the amount of time spent sitting each day is crucial, as well as limiting the duration of each sitting period.

For instance, sitting for more than 30 minutes at a stretch was associated with a higher risk compared to shorter periods of sitting.

The recommendation is for individuals to stand up and move around every 20 minutes or so, even if they don’t walk anywhere, just to interrupt their sitting time.

However, the study also opens up a conversation about the nature of sedentary activities and their impact on health.

Nguyen suggests that not all forms of sitting are equally detrimental, particularly when engaging in cognitively stimulating activities, like learning a new language.

This distinction highlights the complexity of sedentary behavior and its effects on health, suggesting that future research may need to consider the quality of sedentary time, not just the quantity.

Despite the challenges of changing sedentary habits, the study’s implications are clear: moving more and sitting less is essential for maintaining health, especially as we age.

The findings serve as a reminder of our human need for physical activity, pushing against the cultural norms that have made sitting so prevalent.

This research not only contributes to our understanding of sedentary behavior but also calls for a cultural shift towards more active lifestyles, for the sake of our long-term health.

If you care about wellness, please read studies about how ultra-processed foods and red meat influence your longevity, and why seafood may boost healthy aging.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.

The research findings can be found in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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