Sitting less than 3 hours each day may tack 2 more years onto your life

Gary Mogg claims lounging at work in a broken chair led to his injury iStockPhoto

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(CBS News) For those of us glued to our chairs or couches morning and night, a new study suggests it's time to get up if you want to outlive your peers.


Pictures: 6 ways to sit less every day

New research finds restricting sitting time to less than three hours each day might boost an American adult's life expectancy by an extra two years. Not surprisingly, the researchers also found cutting down on the amount of time spent in front of a television also boosted a person's lifespan.

"Sitting is a risk factor, not a disease," study author Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk, associate executive director for population science at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University System in Baton Rouge, La, told WebMD. "It's comparable to obesity, and it's almost to the level of smoking. We need to turn that around and engineer sitting out of our lives."

For Katzmaryk's study, researchers pulled data from five relevant research papers that involved nearly 167,000 adults. The researchers then came up with "population attributable fraction (PAF)" estimates that measure theoretical effects of how sitting would affect an entire population. Those estimates were used to calculate the number of deaths associated with sitting down, leading researchers to conclude that restricting sitting to fewer than three hours a day could tack on two more years of living. They also found cutting television viewing to less than two hours each day could lead to a 1.38-year gain in longevity.

The findings are published in the July 9 issue of BMJ Open.

Other recent studies have shown the health perils from sitting around all the time, including a study presented at a cancer conference last November that found too much sitting and inactivity leads to92,000 cases of cancer each year. And, a study this March of more than 265,000 people showed that people who sit for 11 or more hours per day were 40 percent more likely to die from any cause than people who say less than four hours each day.

According to the researchers, the average American sits or is sedentary for 55 percent of their day. In order to be more active, Gary Sigman -- director of pediatric obesity program of Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill. -- told WebMD that people with a desk job should take a walk during lunch to reduce their inactivity. For those of us whose favorite hobby at home is watching TV, Sigman suggested "try(ing) to adopt and enjoy a more active pastime like walking or bicycling."

"We all need to be regularly active to keep our hearts healthy," senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, Natasha Stewart, told the BBC. "So whether it's by walking to the local shop rather than driving, or playing sport rather than watching it on TV, there are lots of ways to be more active and improve your health."

Check out these six useful tips for being less sedentary:

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