In modern society, many people have sedentary jobs. This category includes office workers, freelancers working on PCs, seamstresses, drivers, and many other specialists. It is a mistake to believe that such activities are less harmful than, for example, work in production. However, in fact, a sedentary lifestyle can be the cause of many cardiometabolic diseases. Gamers and people who spend a lot of time sitting on the couch in front of the TV are also at risk.
Many studies have been conducted around the world to examine the increased risk of mortality due to low mobility. For example, the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study 3 (HUNT3) examined 50,817 adults aged ≥20 years in 2006-2008 and also studied the Norwegian Register of Causes of Death until December 31, 2010.
The following results were obtained: 1068 deaths were registered during 3.3 years, of which 388 were related to cardiometabolic diseases. The hazard ratio (HR) of all-cause mortality associated with total sitting time was:
- HR 1.12 (95% CI 0.89 to 1.42) for total sitting time 4-<7 hours/day;
- HR 1.18 (95% CI 0.90 to 1.57) for total sitting time 7-<10 hours/day;
- HR 1.65 (95% CI 1.24 to 2.21) for total sitting time <10 hours/day
Thus, it was found that a sedentary lifestyle correlates with an increased risk of developing cardiometabolic diseases in the short term. With this in mind, it is important for adults to minimize their total daily sitting time to stay healthy.
Data analysis from 54 countries
Another study found that a sedentary lifestyle is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality, regardless of physical activity. This conclusion was made based on the assessment of a meta-analysis published in 2015, a survey of adults on lifestyle and distribution of time spent sitting (from 2002 to 2011), national statistics on population, life tables, and overall mortality. In total, data from 54 countries were analyzed.
Researchers found that the population share of all-cause mortality for each country is associated with sitting time >3 hours per day. A sedentary lifestyle contributed to 3.8% of all-cause mortality (about 433,000 deaths per year). The highest all-cause mortality due to a sedentary lifestyle was found in the following regions:
- Western Pacific
- Eastern Mediterranean
- Southeast Asia
According to scientists, reducing sitting time will increase life expectancy by 0.20 years in these countries.
How to overcome the problem of a sedentary lifestyle?
Research shows that to reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality, you need to reduce sitting time as much as possible. How is this possible if you have a sedentary job? There are several effective ways:
- Take breaks more often (preferably every 1.5-2 hours), get up from your desk, and do simple physical exercises for at least 5-10 minutes.
- It is important to choose the right desk for work. The best option is to have a height-adjustable desk so that you can work standing for some time.
- When traveling by public transport, it is better to stand or go to the destination (if it is not too far away) by foot if possible.
- It is better to relax not on the couch in front of the TV but on a walk in the park.
- Exercise regularly.
For people who spend a lot of time sitting, it is vital to spend their free time actively. This is the only way to reduce the risk of cardiometabolic diseases.