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Exercise Might Not Help If You’re Generally a Couch Potato

By , SparkPeople Blogger
We often hear about the benefits of exercise, how it will improve your quality of life and help you live longer. It’s easy to assume that people who train for marathons or bike 10 miles to work each day would be the pillar of good health. Although exercise is key, how you spend the other 23 hours a day is just as important. Need another reason to lead an active life that doesn’t involve being a couch potato? A new study says that if you spend a lot of the day sitting, you have an increased risk of mortality regardless of how much you exercise.

Researchers at the American Cancer Society analyzed survey responses from over 123,000 men and women. The results are published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Participants had no history of major health issues and were studied over a 13-year period. According to the results, women were more affected by leisure time sitting than men. “Women who reported more than six hours per day of sitting (outside of work) were 37 percent more likely to die during the time period studied than those who sat fewer than three hours a day. Men who sat more than six hours a day (also outside of work) were 18 percent more likely to die than those who sat fewer than three hours per day. The association remained virtually unchanged after adjusting for physical activity level.”

“Women and men who both sat more and were less physically active were 94 percent and 48 percent more likely to die during the study period, respectively, compared with those who reported sitting the least and being most active,” according to researchers. Obviously, the worst thing for your health is to sit a lot and not exercise.

My friends and family like to joke that I never sit down. I’m not someone who can sit in a restaurant and chat for hours after the meal is over. I’m not good at vegging out in front of the T.V. It makes me too nervous, feeling like I should be doing something instead of just hanging out. I know I’m not someone who would be affected by the results of this study, but the way I live might not be particularly healthy either. I’m pretty sure balance is most important.

I’m not surprised that too much leisure-time sitting could be bad for your health. But I was surprised to learn that this could negate the positive effects that exercise provides.

What do you think? Do you spend a lot of time sitting outside of work and exercise?