Get up and move around as often as you can, for it's good for your heart and waistline, says a new study.
The study links the total amount of time spent sitting down and breaks in sedentary time with various indicators of risk for heart disease, metabolic diseases such as diabetes, and inflammatory processes that can play a role in atherosclerosis.
Even people who participated in moderate to vigorous exercise, prolonged periods of sedentary time was associated with worse indicators of cardio-metabolic function and inflammation, such as larger waist circumferences, lower levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol, higher levels of C-reactive protein (an important marker of inflammation) and triglycerides (blood fats).
On the other hand, those who took more breaks from sitting had smaller waists and lower levels of C-reactive protein.
"For the number of breaks in sedentary time, the most significant differences were observed for waist circumference. The top 25percent of people who took the most breaks had, on average, a 4.1cm smaller waist circumference than those in the lowest 25percent," said Dr Genevieve Healy at The University of Queensland, Australia.
The least amount of sedentary time was 1.8 hours per day, the most 21.2 hours per day; the least number of breaks over the full seven days was 99, and the most was 1,258.
Healy said, "The benefits of regular participation in moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise are well accepted scientifically and by the general public.
"However, the potential adverse health impact of prolonged sitting (which is something that we do on average for more than half of our day), is only just being realised," she said.
"It is likely that regular breaks in prolonged sitting time could be readily incorporated into the working environment without any detrimental impact on productivity, although this still needs to be determined by further research. 'Stand up, move more, more often' could be used as a slogan to get this message across."
Practical tips that might help to do this in an office-based workplace included:
Standing up to take phone calls Walking to see a colleague rather than phoning or emailing Going to a bathroom on a different level Taking the stairs instead of the lift where possible.
"While further evidence of a causal nature is required, less sitting time would be unlikely to do harm. It would, at the very least, contribute to increased overall levels of daily energy expenditure and could help to prevent weight gain."
The story is published online in the European Heart Journal.