An Australian study reported in CIRCULATION magazine discovered an alarmingly high correlation between cardiovascular disease and the amount of time spent sitting watching television. Participants viewing in excess of four hours per day showed an 80% greater risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 46% elevated death risk from all causes when contrasted against study participants viewing television for only two hours per day.
Alarmingly, these dire risk factors pertained to not only obese participants but also among healthy weight study participants who exercised regularly.
"This is not the first study to illustrate the health risks of sitting and it should be a wake up call to individuals, public health officials and corporations alike" states Steve Bordley, CEO of TrekDesk, which allows individuals the opportunity to walk while they work or engage in other sedentary pursuits. "Within one generation we have engineered movement completely out of the workplace and to some degree the home environment. This has grave health consequences and is reflected in the escalating rates of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and other major diseases throughout the developed world."
The focus by government officials, physicians, and human resources personnel has been to advocate minimal standards of moderate to elevated physical activity levels within each day however clinicians are now realizing the health risks of sedentary lifestyles even among height weight proportionate individuals who regularly adhere to an exercise schedule.
Perhaps these findings should not be that surprising. Humans have evolved as a species to remain upright and in constant motion throughout the day yet in one single generation lifestyles have changed to small amounts of exercise and prolonged periods of time sitting.
The effects of extended periods of sedentary behavior, even among otherwise physically active individuals have been linked to metabolic risk factors similar to those seen in profiles of individuals with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
A study from the Canada Fitness Survey found that this sedentary behavior has grave consequences. 17,000 men and women aged 18-90, adjusted for varying health factors, illustrated that extended periods of sitting cannot be re-mediated with occasional leisure time physical activity. Significantly increased mortality rates were shown to be directly correlated with sedentary behaviors independent of leisure time physical activity and BMI.
The results of this study and others strongly indicate that public heath officials, HR personnel and physicians alike must advocate not only increases in leisure time physical activity but potentially more important, a significant reduction in the amount of time spent sitting during the day.