Sitting Less Could Add Years to Life

Spend less time sitting and you might live longer. An analysis of several studies finds that sitting less than three hours a day could increase life expectancy in the U.S. by two years.

A study released today in BMJ Open examined five previous studies that looked at sitting and death from all causes. Using a statistical model, researchers discovered that in addition to gaining years from sitting less, limiting TV watching to less than two hours a day could translate to a gain of 1.38 years in the population.

Other research papers have shown that being sedentary may be linked with a host of health issues, including Type 2 diabetes and death caused by cardiovascular disease.

The authors emphasized that the numbers represent a theoretical estimate of what could happen in a population. In other words, spending less time sitting isn’t a guarantee that you’ll outlive die-hard couch potatoes.

But the news should be a wake-up call to the millions of people who sit rooted at their desks, only to return home and spend more time in front of the television.

“Sitting a lot doesn't mean you'll die earlier, but it increases the risk,” lead author Peter Katzmarzyk told USA Today. He added that even small amounts of movement can help: "Even just standing up to work at your desk or moving around as you work is better for your health."

Some office workers equip their desks with elevated platforms so they can stand during the day, while others use treadmill desks—treadmills equipped with desks that can hold computers and phones. 

What are your tips for being more active during the day? Let us know in the comments.

Jeannine Stein, a California native, wrote about health for the Los Angeles Times. In her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle she has taken countless fitness classes, hiked in Nepal, and has gotten in a boxing ring. Email Jeannine