Extra Exercise May Offset Early Death Risk From Sitting All Day

2 min read

Jan. 26, 2024 – People who sit most of the time at work have a 16% higher risk of death from all causes and a 34% higher risk of death from heart disease, compared to people who are active during the day, a new study published in JAMA Open Network says.

The people who sit too much should do an extra 15 to 30 minutes of daily physical activity to reduce their risk to the level of people who don’t sit at work for most of the day, the study says.

Researchers studied data from the biannual health checkups of about 482,000 people in Taiwan from 1996 to 2017. They were asked about how much sitting they did at work and about lifestyle risk factors such as smoking, drinking, and exercise levels.

About 60% of the people in the study fell into the mostly sitting group, 29% were in the group that alternated sitting and non-sitting, and 10% were in the mostly not-sitting group. Risk factors and other variables were considered to come to the conclusions.

Researchers found the group that sat most of the day had the highest risk. The middle group that alternated sitting and not sitting had about the same mortality risk as the non-sitters, meaning that a little bit of movement went a long way.

“The serious risks associated with prolonged occupational sitting can be mitigated by incorporating regular breaks and engaging in additional physical activity,” the study concluded. “Systemic changes, such as more frequent breaks, standing desks, designated workplace areas for physical activity, and gym membership benefits, can help reduce risk.”

CNN wellness expert Leana Wen, MD, an emergency medicine doctor and adjunct associate professor at George Washington University, had suggestions about how people can work in more exercise.

“Instead of walking around the neighborhood once before dinner, what about walking around twice?” she said. “Instead of going to the gym twice a week, what about three times? Could they park a few blocks farther and walk faster to get to work and back? These small changes can add up.”