Sitting. We all do it. Too much and it’s a killer. There is new evidence that too much sitting (also known as sedentary behavior – which involves very low energy expenditure, such as television viewing and desk-bound work) is adversely associated with health outcomes, including cardio-metabolic risk biomarkers, type 2 diabetes and premature death. In fact, physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. In contrast, a recent large study demonstrated a dose-response association between standing time and all-cause mortality in adults aged 45 years and older. Greater time spent standing throughout the day was associated with less death. Researchers noted that increasing standing may hold promise for alleviating the health risks of prolonged sitting. In today’s society, prolonged sitting has been engineered into our lives. We sit driving, we sit at work, we sit at home. If that is not bad enough, more sitting has also been linked to poorer mental health, significant impairment in blood vessel function, and advanced asymmetries in posture of the trunk and scoliosis to name a few.
Too much sitting should now be considered an important stand-alone component of the physical activity and health equation, particularly in relation to diabetes and cardiovascular risk. Excessive sitting warrants a public health concern. The irony is that the volume of physical activity in society is declining just as we have been learning about how important physical activity is for health. Physical activity improves health. Let’s get active and stay active!