Harvard Women's Health Watch

In the journals: Sitting can shorten your life

Over several decades, researchers have identified strong links between a sedentary lifestyle and a host of chronic diseases, including heart disease, breast and colon cancers, diabetes, osteoporosis, and anxiety and depression. Only recently have studies focused on that quintessential sedentary activity — sitting. The results are a real wake-up (and stand-up) call: even if you're otherwise active, the hours you spend in a chair can increase your risk of dying.

That's the conclusion of a study conducted by investigators from the American Cancer Society (ACS) and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (Aug. 15, 2010). In 1992, researchers selected 53,440 men and 69,776 women, all of whom were generally healthy and already enrolled in the ACS's Cancer Prevention II study. The participants answered annual questionnaires on their daily activities, including time spent sitting as well as the intensity and duration of their leisure-time activities. Participants also provided information on smoking, weight, daily calorie consumption, and alcohol intake.

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