Too Much Sitting Harms Health Even with Exercise

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Biggest health hazard resulting from prolonged sitting is type 2 diabetes
Biggest health hazard resulting from prolonged sitting is type 2 diabetes

(HealthDay News) -- Regular exercise doesn't erase the higher risk of serious illness or premature death that comes from sitting too much each day, a new review reveals. The research is published in the Jan. 20 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

Combing through 47 prior studies, Aviroop Biswas, a Ph.D. candidate at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network, and colleagues found that prolonged daily sitting was linked to significantly higher odds of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and dying. And even if study participants exercised regularly, the accumulated evidence still showed worse health outcomes for those who sat for long periods, the researchers said. However, those who did little or no exercise faced even higher health risks.

The biggest health hazard stemming from prolonged sitting, according to the review, was a 90% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Among studies examining cancer incidence and deaths, significant links were specifically noted between sedentary behavior and breast, colon, uterine, and ovarian cancers. One study in the review showed that less than eight hours of sitting time per day was associated with a 14% lower risk of potentially preventable hospitalization.

Among the studies reviewed, the definition of prolonged sitting ranged from eight hours a day to 12 hours or more. Sitting, or sedentary activities ubiquitous with sitting such as driving, using the computer, or watching television, shouldn't comprise more than four to five hours of a person's day, Biswas told HealthDay, citing guidelines issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada.


  1. Biswas, A, et al. Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(2):123-132; doi: 10.7326/M14-1651.
  2. Lynch, BM, and Owen, N. Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(2):146-147; doi:10.7326/M14-2552.
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