Sitting on your butt is going to kill you

Sorry to be the bringer of bad news, but…a new study tells us that the time you spend sitting on your butt is shortening your life.

Yep. You heard right.

  • Watching tv
  • Surfing the net
  • Driving your car
  • Working at your desk
  • Even reading your favorite blog – Health Habits

All of these activities are killing you.


According to the researchers, being physically active doesn’t make up for all those hours spent sitting on your butt.

The Research

Researchers analyzed survey responses from 123,216 individuals (53,440 men and 69,776 women) who had no history of cancer, heart attack, stroke, or emphysema/other lung disease enrolled in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention II study in 1992.

They examined the amount of time spent sitting and physical activity in relation to mortality between 1993 and 2006.

They found that more leisure time spent sitting was associated with higher risk of mortality, particularly in women.

  • Women who reported more than six hours per day of sitting were 37 % more likely to die during the time period studied than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day.
  • Men who sat more than 6 hours a day were 18 % more likely to die than those who sat fewer than 3 hours per day.

Associations were stronger for cardiovascular disease mortality than for cancer mortality.

And while being physically active didn’t eliminate the effect of all those hours of sitting, when they compared the combination of excessive sitting with a lack of physical activity, the picture looked even worse.

  • Women and men who both sat more and were less physically were 94% and 48% more likely, respectively, to die compared with those who reported sitting the least and being most active.

So…Let’s Recap


  • With exercise, women who sit were 37% more likely to kick the bucket
  • Without exercise, that number jumps to 94%


  • With exercise, male couch potatoes were 18% more likely to croak
  • Without exercise – 48% more likely

And why do they think that sitting on our collective keisters is so bad for us?

“Several factors could explain the positive association between time spent sitting and higher all-cause death rates,” said Dr. Patel. “Prolonged time spent sitting, independent of physical activity, has been shown to have important metabolic consequences, and may influence things like triglycerides, high density lipoprotein, cholesterol, fasting plasma glucose, resting blood pressure, and leptin, which are biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.”


Get off your butt and move around a little


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  1. Like I said before, I don’t know how to fix this when my job will mostly be in front of the computer all day. :-/

  2. I’ve seen this and similar studies recently. The problem is that there is no advice associated with how often you need to move around and how intense. Is getting up for five minutes once an hour and walking down the hall enough? Do you need to take a longer break with an intense walk? This is a major concern for those of us who work on a computer all day. I hope they do more research and come up with some guidelines.

  3. That’s one of the flaws of these studies.

    To be “scientific”, they have to ask very specific questions (3 hrs sitting vs 6 hrs sittings). Too many variables and they mess up the science.

    Problem is, our lives are anything but specific. So, how do we apply specific studies to our messy real lives.

    What I take from this study is that we sit on our asses too much.

    So sit less. If you work at a desk job, get up and move around when possible. Stand up for 30 seconds and stretch like a cat. Go for a “smoke” break. Walk to someones office instead of calling. Don’t become a couch potato at the end of the day. Go for a walk after dinner.

    Keeping in mind that I am sitting down as I write this reply…ironic

  4. Go for a smoke break? Ummm….That’s killing people too so they might as well stay on their collective asses, right? Please respond b/c I need a good laugh.

  5. Back in the day when I worked in an office, it always bugged me when the smokers would drop what they were doing and go for a “smoke break” while the non-smokers would keep toiling away like Santa’s little elves.

    So, I started taking “smoke breaks”…… without actually smoking. Go for a walk, flirt with the women in the office, stare at the clouds, etc….

    More of a “mental health” break, but I still called it my “smoke break”

  6. I hear you loud n’ clear. Jobs can be stressful and us non-smokers need our “Smoke breaks” too.

  7. I spend at least 5-8 hours 3-4 times a week sitting on my backside viewing my computer screen doing research. One of the things I learnt on the Every Other Day Diet was, once I did my workout in the morning my matabolism would be fired up. In order to keep that fat burning going, in the afternoon around 2pm I have a 2 minute energy jog. I just jog on the spot for 2 minutes. This gets the heart pumped and keeps me energised. It’s also a good idea get up and strectch your legs for a minute or 2. I hope that was helpful.

  8. According to MSNBC, this is time spent outside of work ( That would make a big difference since I don’t sit all that much outside of work, but sit most of the day at work.

    Work vs. not-work isn’t mentioned in the abstract or most of the other articles I’ve seen. Has anyone seen the actual article? I tried to access it, but didn’t really want to pony up the $40.

  9. Found my own answer. From the abstract: “examine leisure time spent sitting”. Guess it’s not work time after all. That makes me feel a lot better.

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