Interrupt prolonged sitting with standing
Stand more, live longer
Abundant evidence shows that prolonged, uninterrupted sitting predicts poor health outcomes. Standing might improve health compared to sitting. Data from 16,586 participants with an average age of 42 years at baseline in the 1981 Canadian Fitness Survey offered an opportunity to test this idea. Participants were asked how much time they spent standing each day in categories of almost none, one-fourth of the time, half of the time, three-quarters of the time, and almost all of the time. After an average follow-up of 12 years and compared to participants who reported standing almost none of the time, participants in the other categories of standing had significant 21, 21, 27, and 33 percent lower risks of dying, respectively. These results accounted for age, leisure-time physical activity, and conditions that could limit physical activity. The positive effect of increased standing appeared only for physically inactive participants. Thus, more standing predicts lower risk of dying, especially for physically inactive people.
Prolonged sitting isn’t healthy. Would longer as opposed to shorter periods of standing, which involves using leg muscles, provide a health benefit? Australian researchers addressed this question using data from 221,240 participants in the 45 and Up Study. At baseline, participants were asked how many hours per day they typically spent standing. Over an average follow-up of 4.2 years and compared to participants who reported up to two hours per day of standing, participants who reported between 2-5, 5-8, and more than 8 hours of daily standing had significant 10, 15, and 24 percent lower risks of dying. The step-wise decrease in risk of death with increased standing suggested a cause-and-effect relationship. These results accounted for confounding factors, such as time sitting, disability, physical activity, and self-rated health. Interrupting prolonged periods of sitting with standing ought to be possible for the vast majority of Americans and might help us live longer.
Standing seems to be healthier than sitting. The previous two studies found that greater self-reported standing time predicted lower risk of dying during follow-up. A recent study used hip-mounted accelerometers worn for seven days to objectively measure time standing and time standing with moving about. Participants included women with an average age of 80 years in the Objective Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Study within the Women’s Health Study. A mathematical algorithm calculated the amount of waking-hour time in standing and standing with moving about categories.
After an average follow-up of five years and compared to women in the lowest quartile of standing (less than 25 minutes per day), women in the highest quartile (more than 71 minutes per day) had significant 37 percent lower risk of dying after correcting for confounding factors. Compared to women in the lowest quartile of standing with moving about (less than 2 hours per day), women in the highest quartile (more than 4 hours per day) had significant 50 percent lower risk of dying. Women with higher levels of standing with moving about and lower amounts of sedentary time (10 hours per day) had about half the risk of dying compared to women with higher amounts of sedentary time. Interrupting prolonged periods of sitting (watching TV, reading, surfing the web) with brief periods of movement may help older women live longer and better.
Health authorities recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate- or vigorous-intensity physical activity each week. This recommendation may give the impression that light activities associated with daily living don’t promote better health. A new study shows otherwise. Researchers used data from 5,416 female participants with an average age of 79 years in the Objective Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Study within the Women’s Health Study. The participants were hip-mounted accelerometers to objectively determine physical activity for seven days. A mathematical algorithm calculated the amount of waking-hour time in the standing with ambulation category of physical activity (termed daily life movement, DLM, which meant standing and moving in a confined space, as in housework.
Over a median follow-up of 6.5 years, and compared with participants in the lowest quartile of DLM (less than 2 hours per day), participants in the highest quartile (more than 4 hours per day) had significantly lower risks of cardiovascular-related mortality or incidence of different types of cardiovascular disease after adjusting for confounding factors. Specifically, women in the highest quartile of DLM had significant 61 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and 40 percent lower risk of a major cardiovascular event. Also, each additional hour of daily life movement predicted a 25 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. The resounding message: Even the smallest level of daily movement can reduce risk of dying from or developing cardiovascular disease.