There is plenty of research pointing to the fact that our sedentary lifestyles of being stuck in a chair can be deadly. The latest in that research, published in the†Journal of the National Cancer Institute, reports that people who spend more hours of the day sitting can have up to 66 percent higher risk of getting cancer as those who are less sedentary.
The study was done by researchers at the†University of Regensburg, who carried out a meta-analysis of 43 earlier studies, which included more than 4 million people. All of these studies had periodically asked the participants about their sitting habits, be it watching television or working or otherwise.
Scientists and physicians have always been advocates for living active lifestyles, but because so much of our lives are made up of being sedentary, nowadays it’s no longer enough to just aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day. Certainly, exercising is a part of a healthy lifestyle, but the research showed that the link between sitting and cancer remained strong no matter how matter how much physical activity the participants did. According to TIME, “In other words, even people who worked out regularly but who spent more hours on the couch watching TV, for instance, showed higher rates of cancer than those who didnít sit as much.”
The researchers looked at specific forms of cancer.†Sedentary behavior was linked to a 24% greater risk of developing colon cancer, a 32% higher risk of endometrial cancer, and a 21% higher risk of lung cancer. The researchers did not, however, find a link between sedentary behavior and other cancers like†breast, rectal, ovarian, prostate, stomach, esophagus, testicular, kidney and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. TV-watching puts you at the greatest risk, associated with†a 54 percent increased risk of colon cancer and a 66 percent higher risk for endometrial cancer.
“We found that TV viewing was associated with an increased risk of cancers of the colon and the endometrium,” lead author Daniela Schmid told Forbes. “We further observed that the results were independent of physical activity, showing that sedentary behavior represents a potential cancer risk factor distinct from physical inactivity.”
The lesson is that we should all be both physically active and focus on sitting less. Both are equally important to our health. But the reality is that most of us do sit for a large part of the day because of our jobs. So how much sitting is too much sitting? If you spend a lot of your time sitting, try not to make it more than 60 percent of your day, and be smart about scheduling in breaks for yourself to get up and move around. If you can walk, or take the bus to work, you will get more activity than sitting in your car. Better yet, ride a bicycle.
Whatever you do, just be sure you are sitting less.
Photo Credit: Lain atson