The Dangers of Sitting Too Much

Medically Reviewed

People who are sedentary for most of their day are more likely to have a heart attack, according to a recent analysis. The risk kicked in when people spent more than 10 of their waking hours each day sitting, watching television, or driving.

For the analysis, researchers collected data on more than 700,000 people from nine studies. They found that after half the participants had been followed for more than 11 years, people who were the most sedentary (around 12½ nonactive hours a day) were 14 percent more likely to have a heart attack or similar problem than those who were the least sedentary (around 2½ nonactive hours a day)—even after adjusting for physical activity.

Previous studies have found that the highest levels of being sedentary have negative effects on triglycerides, insulin sensitivity, and C-reactive protein.

Fortunately, a second analysis that included data on more than 1 million people found that getting 60 to 75 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each day appears to counteract an increased risk of dying among people who spend more than eight hours a day sitting.

The researchers concluded that if people are unable to avoid long periods of sitting—which is par for the course with many jobs—it’s important to also make time for physical activity.

Read more about getting the most from your workouts and the benefits of strength training.

Sources: JAMA Cardiology, published online July 13, 2016; The Lancet, published online July 27, 2016