Sedentary lifestyles are taking a heavy toll on the health of people across the world. It has now been confirmed beyond doubt that sitting for long hours makes a person more susceptible to heart diseases, cancer and diabetes. What comes as a shock are the findings of a new study which mention that people who sit too much are more likely to develop health complications mentioned above even if they exercise frequently.

That places all of us who sit for long hours at meetings, behind the computers or just idling our time away at a far greater risk than was earlier believed.

Researchers from Toronto now have reasons to believe that sedentary time and exercise time are two distinct factors when it boils down to the overall health of an individual.

During a telephonic interview, Dr. David Alter of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, who is the senior author of this study pointed out, “What we didn’t know earlier was whether the sitting time and health relationship was because people were also exercising poorly.”

“Another way of saying it is just because one does their 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day doesn’t ensure their health,” Alter said. “These are two distinct factors, we need both, we need exercise and need to be sitting less.”

The researchers involved came to this conclusion after analyzing 47 studies of sedentary behavior. They found that the more a person exercises, the lower the impact of sedentary behavior though gym time or regular exercising does not negate the damage they cause themselves by sitting for long hours at a stretch.

Prolonged sitting hours (meaning sitting for eight to twelve hours a day) can cause death due to cardiovascular issues and cancer as well as cause chronic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes.

Physical inactivity and lack of exercise (or insufficient exercise) have together been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for death for people anywhere in the world.

The studies “all seemed to show a similar result,” Alter said. “There is a strong and consistent link between sitting time and a host of diseases.”

None of the studies in the review were randomized controlled trials, so researchers can’t yet say that sitting directly causes disease, Alter said.

So, regular morning walkers and gym goers who sit for long hours every day continue to be at a greater risk than people who are more active and sit for shorter durations, though better than those who are not only sedentary but also do not put their lazy bones into action at all.

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