Dr. Alpha Patel, senior epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, presided over the largest study to date analyzing the impact of sitting on the risk of mortality. The study found alarming results for both men and women however women, for reasons not yet understood, exhibited a much greater risk of premature death from sedentarism than men.
The study found that women sitting more than six hours per day increased their risk of premature death by 37% and men 18% even when accounting for other risk factors such as diet, physical activity and smoking. Females who were the most sedentary and exercised the least had twice the risk of premature death to other women, while men showed a 50% increase to their more active counterparts. The ACS was uncertain as to what accounted for the differences among men and women.
This study is similar to a 2010 Australian study which showed a significant rise in the risk of premature mortality based on sedentary behavior. However this study is unique in uncovering a potentially higher risk to the female population, it is quite alarming.
The Australian study showed an 80% increased risk of heart disease among men and women and 46% increased risk of mortality among study participants who sat for more than 4 hours per day even if they were active and lived healthy lifestyles, the facts are clear- we need to stay in motion most of the day for optimum health.
We believe that a total re-engineering or our work and study environments need to be undertaken which encourage movement at every opportunity and discourage sitting.
From an evolutionary perspective it makes sense that the human body rewards motion with health since a sedentary body would not last long enough to procreate in the wild. The question for us today is how many studies will we need before a common sense approach to health settles in that we cannot remain sedentary as a society and expect to be healthy or successful.