Bad news for desk jockeys, truck drivers and online journalists: A new study performed by Kansas State University researcher Richard Rosenkranz has found the more people sit, the more likely they are to develop a chronic disease.
Rosenkranz and collaborators Emma George and Gregory Kolt from the University of Western Sydney studied the effect of sitting on middle-aged Australian males and have now published their findings in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
Though long periods of sitting may have dire effects on both genders, males take the hardest hit from resting on their laurels. Specifically, men who spend four or more hours a day sitting are significantly more likely to develop diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
To find these results, Rosenkranz’ team studied more than 63,000 Australian men between the ages of 45 and 65 years old. These men first answered questions about any existing chronic diseases and reported their daily sitting time. These sitting times were divided into four different categories: Less than four hours a day, four to six hours a day, and more than eight hours every day.
Those who reported resting on their rump less than four hours a day were not any more likely to come down with a chronic disease. Any more than four hours of sitting time a day, however, and these men saw an increased risk of cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure. And the longer these men spent sitting, the more pronounced this risk became.
“We saw a steady stair-step increase in risk of chronic diseases the more participants sat,” said Rosenkranz in a statement. “The group sitting more than eight hours clearly had the highest risk.”
Rosenkranz believes much of this abundant sitting can be blamed on the types of jobs these men have, such as office jobs or truck drivers. But it isn’t just that these men are required to sit on the job – they’re also getting less physical activity at home as well, which further increases their risk of developing disease.
“We know that with very high confidence that more physically active people do better with regard to chronic disease compared with less physically active people, but we should also be looking at reducing sitting,” Rosenkranz said.
“A lot of office jobs that require long periods of sitting may be hazardous to your health because of inactivity and the low levels of energy expenditure.”
Rosenkranz and team focused on males in this study since men have a higher rate of diabetes and heart disease. However, the researchers suspect the results are “probably” applicable to all ages, genders and races. Though this research is part of a much broader study of the effects of aging on Australians, it did not measure the effects of sitting on any other demographic.
This isn’t the first time important anti-sitting research has come from Kansas State University. In 2010, assistant professor of family studies and human services Deb Sellers grew tired of all the sitting she was doing at her new position. Claiming she felt a noted difference in her physical activity after she began sitting most of the day, she had her husband build a desk on top of a treadmill. Now, Sellers can keep up with emails and create lesson plans all while taking a stroll in her office. The results, she said, have been remarkable.