Sitting for long periods of time can be more harmful than people may think. Dr. Steven Blair, a researcher with USC’s Arnold School of Public Health, authored a study that is receiving lots of national attention.
Blair says that exercise may not offset long periods of sitting still:
When we look at other risk factors, low fitness is much more powerful a predictor than blood pressure, cholesterol, or glucose or a number of other clinical variables. Low fitness, which you get by not being physically active, is a very powerful determinate of morbidity and mortality.
Blair says low fitness is dangerous, regardless of high cholesterol or blood pressure.
The report says that, during the 1960s, more than half of all jobs included moderate physical activity. That number has dropped to less than 20 percent today.
Blair was lead researcher on a study of how men’s after-work sedentary behaviors lead to heart disease even when they meet the basic federal fitness activity guidelines.
Let’s say you do thirty minutes of walking five days a week and let’s say you sleep for eight hours. Well, that still leaves fifteen and a half hours. So what do most of us do? Well, an awful lot of us have sedentary jobs and we sit there at our job or watch television, or just spend most of the day sitting. So we do find higher rates of morbidity and mortality in people who just sit a lot.
Blair says that getting up, walking around and moving around throughout the workday may help offset the harmful effects of sitting.
He has studied fitness for four decades:
I’ve spent 40 years investigating that topic. We have a very large population that we’ve been following for thirty years with objective laboratory measures, including measures of cardiorespiratory fitness. In our database, low fitness is just about the most powerful predictor of mortality of anything that we look at. It’s actually comparable to smoking.
Blair’s study is being used to help address the nation’s obesity epidemic.
Read the full study.