"The study adds to the growing literature on how risky long periods of sitting are for our health, and underscores a growing awareness among clinicians and researchers that sitting really is the new smoking", added Monika Safford, professor at Weill Cornell Medical Centre.
For the study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal, Diaz and his team from seven USA institutions fitted activity trackers to nearly 8,000 people aged 45 and over from across America.
While previous research has linked excessive sedentary time to an increased risk of death, numerous studies relied on people to accurately recall and report how much they moved around and might not have painted a clear picture of the relationship between mortality and inactivity.
But after tracking subjects for four years, they found that people who get up every 30 minutes were the least likely to have died during the period of the study.
We already knew that the sedentary lifestyles becoming ever more common in post-industrial societies were bad for us, but the study by Keith Diaz at Columbia University and colleagues draws a grim and direct connection between lack of movement and death.
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One of the major limitations to these studies was the fact that the results were obtained by relying heavily on the word of the participants. People who kept their stretches of sitting to less than 30 minutes had the lowest risk of death.
The results reveal that, on average, participants were inactive for 12.3 hours of a 16 hour waking day, with each period of inactivity lasting an average of 11.4 minutes.
The researchers found a "dose-response" relationship between the risk of death and the amount of sedentary time, which means that the more you sit the more your risk of dying goes up.
Days spent sitting for hours may increase your risk for an early death no matter how much you exercise, researchers say.
Even if you are doing the recommended amount of moderate to vigorous exercise, you will still have a higher risk of mortality if you're spending too many hours sitting. "If you have a job or lifestyle where you have to sit for prolonged periods, our findings suggest that taking a movement break every half hour could reduce your risk of death".
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That's about 77 percent of the time awake spent sitting.
"We found that there wasn't a threshold or cutoff where one's risk for death dramatically increased", said Diaz, explaining that risk of death increased with more sitting. In this photo, an overweight person sits on a bench in Glasgow City center in Scotland, Sept. 12, 2006.
Researchers from Columbia University studied 7,985 adults who were over the age of 45. "With all studies, we need replication of the findings in different populations to solidify our conclusions concerning the veracity of the findings". In addition to it, the new research says that not only the total length of the time one spends in sitting is unsafe, but also the duration of continue sitting at single place without break can cause the sever problems.
Nevertheless, the team say the study underscores the need for individuals to take breaks from inactivity. "For example, when watching TV, get up and move during commercials".
People with greater total sedentary time were more likely to be black, to smoke, and to have diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, estimated glomerular filtration rate less than 60 mL/min/1.73 m, and atrial fibrillation. "These are the foods that we are surrounded by, in an environment where it's OK to eat wherever and whenever you like".
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