Sometimes it’s difficult to find time to work out, and many of us sit at our desks for hours at a time without any movement other than typing. Evenings at home may not be much better if you watch TV or play games at your computer.
New research suggests that sitting for long periods of time may increase cancer risk – whether you exercise regularly or not. What to do? As it happens, we’ve got some great ideas on being less sedentary during the day in our latest video: 3 minute office workouts.
This month, there’s a lot of new research pointing to why you should be standing a bit more.
The August American Journal of Preventive Medicine journal is a themed issue about sedentary behavior and its health effects. In short, and perhaps not that surprising, too much sitting is bad for our health.
Exactly what leads us to be sedentary and how we can break those habits is the topic of several of the studies. Here’s the table of contents where you can read all the abstracts.
How much TV we watch is a common measure of sedentary behavior and this week, an Australian study made some life-shortening headlines. The study found that watching TV for an average of six hours per day could shorten viewers’ lives by almost five years, when compared to people who watch no TV. On average, every hour of TV adults (after age 25) watched reduced their life expectancy by 22 minutes – about the time of an average sitcom.
Of course, there are many reasons why sedentary living may cut short TV lovers’ lives. Watching a lot of TV is linked to poor diets and being overweight, two risk factors for many chronic diseases.
But sedentary behavior – as opposed to not getting enough exercise – has emerged as a distinct risk factor for cancer, heart disease and others. The cancer-sedentary behavior link was highlighted in an issue of Cancer Research Update. The topic is also featured at AICR’s research conference in November.
Whether it’s TV watching or computer time, sedentary living is a big part of the day for many. For those who have broken some sedentary habits, any suggestions?
At the AICR Research Conference last week, there was a lot of talk on the evidence linking physical activity to improving the health of cancer survivors. For several cancers, including breast and colon, a growing number of studies suggest that physical activity can help reduce risk of recurrence and improve many aspects of survivor’s physiological and psychological health.
But if being physically active can decrease cancer risk, can sitting around a lot – a.k.a. sedentary behavior – increase risk? It’s quite possible, suggests a new review article. The article was published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, and you can read the abstract here.
Sedentary behavior research is an emerging field of study. In research, the term sedentary behavior refers to prolonged sitting or lying down, such as playing computer games or watching TV for hours at a time. If a woman exercises vigorously for 60 minutes every day then watches TV all night every night, she is exhibiting sedentary behavior.
The review found that 10 of 18 studies linked increased sedentary behavior to cancer risk. Sedentary behavior was linked with increased colorectal, endometrial, ovarian, and prostate cancer risk; cancer mortality in women; and weight gain in colorectal cancer survivors.
AICR’s expert report and its updates found that sedentary living increased the risk of excess body fat, which is one cause of seven types of cancer. Right now, more research is needed to understand the links and mechanisms of not moving and cancer risk, but one thing is known: moving more is a good thing. Physical activity helps prevent several cancers and a host of other poor health outcomes.