The Dangers of Sitting

I saw this chart last spring and it spooked me, and it has lingered in my mind ever since:

A disturbing new Australian study backs up the chart:

Prolonged sitting is considered detrimental to health, but evidence regarding the independent relationship of total sitting time with all-cause mortality is limited. This study aimed to determine the independent relationship of sitting time with all-cause mortality.

… We linked prospective questionnaire data from 222 497 individuals 45 years or older … to mortality data …

During 621 695 person-years of follow-up …, 5405 deaths were registered…. The association between sitting and all-cause mortality appeared consistent across the sexes, age groups, body mass index categories, and physical activity levels and across healthy participants compared with participants with preexisting cardiovascular disease or diabetes mellitus.

Conclusions Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for all-cause mortality, independent of physical activity. Public health programs should focus on reducing sitting time in addition to increasing physical activity levels.

Greg Laden drives home the most challenging implication of the data:

I know what you are thinking: “I go to the gym for five hours a day so that fixes that problem.” Sorry, but no. Apparently (and this is not fully demonstrated, so this is something of a guess) it’s the sitting that hurts you, independently of the lack of exercise. Yes, those several hours a week of exercise helps you and makes you healthier, but the sitting itself, if we’ve got this right, is a bad thing, with negative effects, and if you do too much off that every day you’ll die sooner than otherwise.

Maybe.

Yeah, I’m going to die of sitting.

Maybe.

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