Over a period of 10 days, sitting or lounging behavior took up the equivalent of 12.3 hours over a 16-hour waking day — about 77%, on average.
That’s a whole lot of sitting. But subjects differed in the extent to which they hunkered down for long stretches without getting up and moving around.
When researchers measured the “bout length” of subjects’ sitting spells, they found that 52% lasted less than a half-hour, 22% lasted between a half-hour and just under an hour, 14% lasted 60 to 89 minutes and 14% went on for more than 90 minutes.
After tracking subjects for four years, the researchers found that subjects who racked up the most time sitting were most likely to have died during the study period, and those who spent the least time sitting were least likely to have died. That was no surprise.
But when they looked at the death rates as a function of how often subjects went long hours without getting up, they saw a similar pattern: Those whose sitting bouts tended to be lengthier were more likely to have died than were those whose sitting spells tended to be shorter.
Make no mistake, the authors of the new research cautioned: “Accumulation of large volumes of sedentary time is a hazardous health behavior regardless of how it is accumulated.” But logging sedentary time in shorter bouts of sitting “is the least harmful pattern of accumulation.”
Study participants who racked up the most time in a chair tended to be older, were more likely to smoke, and were disproportionately African-American. They tended to be teetotallers, to have a higher body-mass index, and were less likely to get much intentional exercise.
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