Sitting around may not improve your lifespan
But experts say the estimates, based on five separate population studies in the US, are too unreliable to predict personal risk. Plus, the targets are unfeasible.
Prof David Spiegelhalter, an expert in risk calculations at theUniversityofCambridge, said: “This is a study of populations, and does not tell you personally what the effect of getting off the sofa might be.
“It seems plausible that if future generations moved around a bit more, then they might live longer on average.
“But very few of us currently spend less than three hours sitting each day, so this seems a very optimistic target.”
Actually, physical fitness comes into the health equation because adults are advised to do at least 2½ hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activities.
These include cycling or fast walking, as well as a couple of sessions of muscle-strengthening exercises, like lifting weights or digging in the garden.
But even if you complete these recommended activities, you may work in an office and, thus, spend most of your working day sitting.
Various studies have linked sitting and television-viewing to conditions like diabetes and heart disease, as well as an increased overall risk of death.
Finding a link, though, is not the same as proving that one thing causes the other.
And although this latest piece of research, involving five separate studies, does not claim to be proof, the researchers themselves acknowledge there are flaws in their findings.
The studies embraced nearly 167,000 people altogether, but it did not scrutinise the different lifestyles of the individuals.
It is not clear how many of these people were less healthy to begin with and who, therefore, might spend more time sitting down as a result.
And the studies also relied on the participants accurately recalling and reporting how much time they spent lounging around.
Dr Peter Katzmarzyk and Prof I-Min Lee, who carried out the review, stress that their estimates are theoretical.
Telly time may distract from more “healthy activities, suggest researchers. But given that the adults in their research spent, on average, half of their days sitting down, “engaged in sedentary pursuits”, the findings could provide an important public health warning.
Natasha Stewart, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This research suggests a causal association between sedentary behaviour and a shorter life expectancy.
“It also used American data, so we would need to see more research to understand what it means for theUKpopulation.
“However, it does highlight what we already know about sedentary behaviour being a risk factor for developing heart disease. And recentUKguidelines suggested we should all minimise the time we spend sitting down.
“We all need to be regularly active to keep our hearts healthy. So whether it’s by walking to the local shop rather than driving, or playing sport rather than watching it on TV, there are lots of ways to be more active and improve your health.”
It also makes me wonder just how much time the researches themselves spent sitting down and working out the results of their studies. More than three hours a day, I bet!
Short URL: http://www.canarianweekly.com/?p=13855