People who spend more than three hours a day sitting down are at high health risk. Globally, about 433,000 or four percent of all deaths are due to sitting for a prolonged period of time, says a new study conducted in 54 countries.
Researchers from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil and San Jorge University in Spain estimated the proportion of deaths attributed to the 'chair effect' using data from 2002 to 2011.
‘Reducing the amount of time we sit by about two hours would mean a 2.3% decrease in mortality.’
"It is important to minimize sedentary behavior in order to prevent premature deaths around the world," said the lead author of the study Leandro Rezende from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.
"Cutting down on the amount of time we sit could increase life expectancy by 0.20 years in the countries analyzed," noted Rezende.
Over 60% of the people worldwide spend more than three hours a da sitting down. The chair effect claims 3.8% or 433,000 deaths per year. An average sitting time in adults is 4.7 hours per day.
The death rate was more in the Western Pacific, followed by European countries, the Eastern Mediterranean, America and Southeast Asia.
According to the study, the highest rates were found in Lebanon (11.6%), the Netherlands (7.6%) and Denmark (6.9%), while the lowest rates were in Mexico (0.6%), Myanmar (1.3%) and Bhutan (1.6%). Spain falls within the average range with 3.7% of deaths due to this 'chair effect.'
Reducing the sitting time by about two hours would mean a 2.3 percent decrease in mortality (three times less), although it is not possible to confirm whether this is a causal relationship.
According to a study published in the journal Lancet
(2012), about 31% of the world population does not meet the current recommendations for physical activity.
Physical inactivity is associated with non-communicable diseases and deaths of any cause.
A sedentary lifestyle has an impact on these numbers, said the researchers. Studies have shown that over the last decade, excessive amount of time spent sitting down may increase the risk of death, regardless of whether we exercise or not, said the researchers.
The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine