New research shows that women who exercise regularly spend as much time sitting as women who don’t, which can have significant health consequences, according to the study by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Past studies have shown that people who sit for extended periods of time—even those meeting exercise recommendations—are more likely to develop chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
“We all know someone who gets a good workout in every day, but then spends a large portion of their day sitting in front of a computer with few breaks,” said Lynette L. Craft, study co-author and an adjunct assistant professor in preventive medicine at Northwestern. “If these people could replace some of the sitting with light activity—just getting up, moving around, maybe standing up when talking on the phone, walking down the hall instead of sending an email—we do think they could gain health benefits.”
We can do that, right?
“If these people could replace some of the sitting with light activity—just getting up, moving around, maybe standing up when talking on the phone, walking down the hall instead of sending an email—we do think they could gain health benefits.”
While many of the women in the study met or exceeded the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week, in reality only a fraction of the women’s days were spent being physically active. The women in the study spent an average of nine hours a day sitting.
“I think some people assume, ‘If I’m getting my 30 to 40 minutes of physical activity a day, I’m doing what I need to do for my health,’” Craft said. “Of course, exercise is very important and is associated with many positive health benefits, but negative health consequences are associated with prolonged sitting, and this study shows that just because you’re physically active doesn’t mean you’re sitting less.”
The Northwestern research was published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
The Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation, the Avon Foundation and the Edward G. Schlieder Educational Foundation supported the study.