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© NOVA JUNE 2014
Sitting for a ny length of time may
not be good for us. More and more
e vidence shows that sedentary
watching tele vision, u sing a computer, a nd
driving a car are risk factors, independent of
physic al activity, for adverse chronic disease
in adults such a s obesity, c a ncer, heart a nd
kidney disease, chronic neck and back pain,
as well as premature death.
The act of sitting increases your
chances of developing all these conditions
independent of how much exercise you do
a nd how active you are outside of sitting.
You can do a long run every night, but if you
sit too long during the day you still increa se
your risk of these chronic conditions.
Unfortunately, pe ople have grown more
se dentary during the 20th and 21st c enturies.
On average, a dults spend an average of eight
hours per day sitting, incre a sing to 10 or
more hours a day in older age and young
people between the age of six and 20 spend
on average 40 to 60% of the day sitting,
often in prolonged a nd uninterrupted bouts1.
In Australia, at least according to the
ABS, we sit for around 39 hours a week and
on average 10 hours at work. But these are
average figures – clerical and administration
workers have an average of 22 hours sitting
at work. Apparently we sit for 13 hours a
week in front of television and, in front of
a c omputer for non-work related activities,
eight to 24 year olds sit for nine hours a week.
Remember, these are just averages and as I
don’t sit down much (I use a standing desk)
someone is sitting a lot more than average.
Also however, people who tend to sit at work
a lso tend to sit more in other locations, adding
to the increa sed burden of sitting.
Studies have linked sitting to a greater risk for
colon, prostate, breast and endometrial cancers.
In a re vie w of 18 studies, 10 found statistically
significant, positive associations bet ween
s edentary beh aviour and cancer outcome s.
Sedentary behaviour was a ss ociated with
increa sed c olore ct al, endometrial, ova ria n,
a nd prost ate cancer risk; cancer mortality in
women; and weight gain in colorectal cancer
survivors2. In a study of 5380 women and
5788 men, a s tanding/walking occupation wa s
associated with a 32% lower risk of all-cause
mortality and a 40% risk reduction in cancer
mortality, compared to sitting occupations .
Too much sitting is al so a ss ociated with cancer
s ur vival. Sitting is associated with weight
gain around the waist, insulin resistance,
a nd markers of inflammation, which may
contribute to adverse cancer outcomes (disease
progression, recurrence, or death) and to the
development of other chronic disease. The
daily sedentary time was correlated with the
protein levels of inflammatory biomarkers3,4 ,5
which is associated with cancer incidence and
s ur vival. Initial studies indicate that cancer
s ur vivors spend two thirds of their waking
A new word has been coined to describe a
prevailing modern lifestyle condition – sedentarism.
And as Peter Dingle PhD points out it’s easy to
overcome. Just get up and move.
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