It is well known that inactivity can lead to health problems. However, a recent study has found that active individuals are not without risk if they spend a significant amount of time sitting each day. Published in the May 2009 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2009; 41 [5], 998–1005), the study followed more than 17,000 Canadians aged 18–90. The study authors examined sitting time, leisure-time physical activity, smoking status and alcohol consumption at baseline. After an average of 12 years, the researchers looked at mortality rates among participants and compared them to the baseline results. At that time 1,832 people had died: 759 from cardiovascular disease, 547 from cancer and the rest from other causes. The researchers identified a “progressively higher risk of mortality across higher levels of sitting time from all causes and CVD, but not cancer.” This was regardless of leisure-time physical activity.

“In addition to the promotion of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and a healthy weight, physicians should discourage sitting for extended periods,” stated the study authors.