How Sitting All Day Could Damage Your Health, Even If You Exercise Regularly Outside Work

20/01/2015 11:51 GMT | Updated 20/01/2015 11:59 GMT

Most of us know that to be fit and healthy we should be doing at least two and a half hours of physical activity per week.

But did you realise that all your hard work could be going to waste if you spend the rest of your time sitting?

According to new research, sitting too much - even is you exercise regularly - can lead to a number of health problems in later life.

old woman at desk office

Dr. David Alter, a heart expert from the University of Toronto, led a study looking into the effects of sitting on person's health.

He and his colleagues analysed data from 47 previous studies which asked participants lifestyle questions, such as how much exercise they did per week.

The researchers linked sitting to higher rates of heart disease, cancer, hospitalisation and early death - even if the individual participated in regular exercise.

People who sit for the majority of the day were found to have a 90% higher risk of developing diabetes than those who don't and an 18% higher chance of dying of heart disease or cancer.

Heavy sitters also have 24% greater odds of dying from any cause, according to the figures.

“What struck me, and I was quite surprised by this, was that the deleterious effects of sitting time were almost uniform across the board of total mortality, heart disease mortality, the occurrence of heart disease, the occurrence of cancer and the mortality from cancer,” Alter told Time.

“When we see a consistent effect, that reaffirms that something real is going on.”

The report is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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This isn't the first study to suggest sitting can have a detrimental affect on health.

In 2012 scientists from the University of Loughborough analysed the results of 18 studies with a total of 794,577 participants and found that sitting in a chair for long periods of the day can double the risk of diabetes, heart disease and death.

Prof Biddle, from the University of Loughborough, who was one of the researchers, said: "Currently society forces us into too much sitting, sitting at school, sitting at office desks, sitting in cars and so on.

"There are many ways we can reduce our sitting time, such as breaking up long periods at the computer at work by placing our laptop on a filing cabinet. We can have standing meetings, we can walk during the lunch break, and we can look to reduce TV viewing in the evenings by seeking out less sedentary behaviours."

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