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Sitting, Even with Exercise, Increases Risk of Disease, Early Death

Jan 20, 2015 04:54 PM EST

Sitting for long periods of time, even with regular exercise, increases a person's risk of disease and early death, according to a recent study.

"More than one half of an average person's day is spent being sedentary - sitting, watching television, or working at a computer," Dr. David Alter, with the University Health Network (UHN), said in a statement. "Our study finds that despite the health-enhancing benefits of physical activity, this alone may not be enough to reduce the risk for disease." The diseases include heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

"Avoiding sedentary time and getting regular exercise are both important for improving your health and survival," he added. "It is not good enough to exercise for 30 minutes a day and be sedentary for 23 and half hours."

While sitting for most of the day has negative health effects, as can be expected the risks are mitigates with regular exercise, and amplified among those who do little or no exercise.

 "We need further research to better understand how much physical activity is needed to offset the health risks associated with long sedentary time and optimize our health," added lead author Avi Biswas, also of UNH.

However, just because you work a desk job that requires you sit to all day doesn't mean you're doomed. The researchers note that there are several small ways you can increase your standing time. For example, at work they suggest getting up and moving for one to three minutes about every half hour. And while you're watching television, stand or exercise during commercials (which mostly aren't that interesting anyway).

The point is to decrease sedentary time by two to three hours in a 12-hour day.

"The first step is to monitor sitting times - once we start counting, we're more likely to change our behavior," said Alter. "Next is setting achievable goals and finding opportunities to incorporate greater physical activity - and less time sitting - into your daily life."

The results were published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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