According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, sitting down a few hours a day may increase the risk of dying prematurely. On the other hand, simply standing or doing some physical activity could counteract this effect from sitting.
The study was done by collecting data from 54 countries and analyzing the times people spent on their desks. There were also analysis on population size, overall deaths as well as actuarial life tables.
More than 60 percent of people worldwide spend more than three hours a day sitting down, and the researchers calculated that sitting time contributed to some 433,000 deaths from 2002 through 2011.
The average time that people spent sitting down was calculated to 4.7 hours a day across different countries. It was calculated that reducing that time to about 2.5 hours would bring down the mortality rate by 2%.
The association between time spent sitting and mortality has been found in other studies, and the link persists even after accounting for other physical exercise.
“This is the best data we have for now,” said the lead author, Leandro Rezende, a doctoral candidate at the University of São Paulo School of Medicine, “but we don’t know if it’s a causal relationship.
“There are things we can do,” he continued. “Stand up, and go have a drink of water instead of keeping the water bottle at your desk. Or just stand up every so often. Standing alone increases your energy expenditure.”