Sitting for long hours kills 433,000 people every year – Study

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A study has shown that about 1,200 people die daily worldwide because of sitting for more than three hours a day.

Sitting is a basic part of nature but the study has shown that nearly 433,000 deaths are recorded every year due to longer sitting hours with the fatalities accounting for about 3.8 per cent of the global annual deaths due to inactivity.

Death by long sitting hours is due to an imbalance between the production and breakdown of a type of unstable molecule in the body, which may cause cell death.

Excessive sitting is also linked to stiffening of heart vessels, hypertension and diabetic vascular disease.

The study titled: “All-Cause Mortality Attributable to Sitting Time” which was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine estimated the proportion of deaths attributable to the “chair effect” in 54 countries, using data from 2002 to 2011.

About 1.16 billion people aged 40 to 79 were sampled.

According to the study, more than 60 per cent of people spent more than three hours a day sitting, with adults averaging 4.7 hours. Every hour added to more than seven sitting hours a day increases the risk of death by five per cent even after one adjusts from moderate to vigorous physical activity.

The study also notes the excessive amount of time we spend sitting may increase the risk of death, regardless of whether we exercise or not.

The lead author of the study, Mr Leandro Rezende, said reducing the amount of time we sit “could increase life expectancy by 0.20 years in those countries analysed.

“It is important to minimise sedentary behaviour in order to prevent premature deaths,” he said.

The deaths were highest in Lebanon (11.6 per cent), the Netherlands (7.6 per cent) and Denmark (6.9 per cent), while the lowest rates were in Mexico (0.6 per cent), Myanmar (1.3 per cent) and Bhutan (1.6 per cent).

The study recommends that people increase more physical activity and sit less. It says if we reduce the amount of time we sit by about two hours, it would mean a 2.3 per cent decrease in mortality.

Even a more modest reduction in sitting time — by 10 per cent or half an hour per day — could be sufficient in reducing deaths.

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