Even if you sweat it out at the gym regularly, sitting for long hours and working without a break can put you at an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity, a new study has claimed.
While regular exercise is beneficial, it doesn’t reduce the risks of a sedentary lifestyle, found the study, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, the New York Daily News reported.
“We all know someone who gets a good workout in every day, but then spends a large portion of their day sitting in front of a computer with few breaks,” said Lynette Craft, lead author of the study and adjunct professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
“If these people could replace some of the sitting with light activity just getting up, moving around, maybe standing up when talking on the phone, walking down the hall instead of sending an email we do think they could gain health benefits,” Craft said.
The study looked at whether women who exceed the federal government’s current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week are less sedentary than those who don’t meet the guidelines, the report said.
While many of the women in the study met or exceeded 150 minutes of physical activity per week, in reality only a fraction of the women’s days were spent being physically active. The women in the study spent an average of nine hours a day sitting.
That number is consistent with previous results from much larger studies that examined the number of hours Americans spend sitting every day.
Emerging research has led health experts to believe that sitting is the new smoking, and women and men both need to be mindful about being couch or desk potatoes.
“I think some people assume, ‘If I’m getting my 30 to 40 minutes of physical activity a day, I’m doing what I need to do for my health,” Craft said, noting that people now sit even longer than they sleep.
“Of course, exercise is very important and is associated with many positive health benefits, but negative health consequences are associated with prolonged sitting, and this study shows that just because you’re physically active doesn’t mean you’re sitting less,” Craft added.