Jul 15, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Sitting Kills, Even if You Exercise

Jan 21, 2015 11:55 PM EST

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One of the best things you do after a hard day's work or after exercising may actually be killing you.  A new study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine has found that sitting for extended periods of time increases your chances of a premature death, even with exercise.

Our entire modern lifestyle has been built to keep you sitting down.  So many daily activities such as driving, working and watching TV keep you in a seated position for extended periods of time.

But when researchers from Toronto analyzed 47 studies of sedentary behavior, they reached the conclusion that sitting can lead to an early death.  They adjusted their findings to include the amount someone exercises, and found that while exercise can lower the impact of the sedentary behavior, in many cases the amount we sit far outweighs the benefits of exercise.

According to the study, this sedentary behavior can lead to an early death from various diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as increases the risk of developing other conditions such as Type 2 diabetes.  Prolonged sitting, meaning sitting for eight to twelve hours or more, increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as 90%.

The findings revealed two truths.  First, this is about cumulative time you spend sitting.  Some people who sat for fewer than eight hours total each day were shown to have a 14 percent lower risk for eventually getting sick enough to be hospitalized.  Second, mixing in regular exercise can help erase some of this damage.

"Sedentary time was associated with a 30 percent lower relative risk for all-cause mortality among those with high levels of physical activity as compared with those with low levels of physical activity," the authors of the study say.

So how can you reduce the time you spend sitting?  The study authors offered a few simple suggestions to help you sit less.  First, be aware of how much time you spend sitting each day.  Make a goal to reduce that number a little each week.  If you are at work, try a standing desk or make a goal to get up and walk around for a a few minutes once every half hour.

Ideally, adults should log at least 150 minutes of weekly physical activity "in bouts of 10 minutes or more," the authors wrote.  This type of regular activity in a standing position is the best way to fight against the new threat of sitting, and can help you reduce the threat of premature death.

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