Sitting for more than three hours a day is accountable for 3.8 percent of all-cause deaths, says a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. However, restricting sitting to less than three hours each day may increase life expectancy by up to 0.2 percent.

Lead investigator Leandro Rezende from the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine says that even a 10 percent reduction or 30-minute decrease of sitting time provides immediate benefits. A fifty percent reduction or two-hour time reduction would result in three times fewer deaths.

This study supports previous studies that have shown that sedentary practices harm one’s health. The research team claims that even moderate or robust physical activity won’t counteract the effects of prolonged sitting.

A man sitting. Photo from Pixabay/StartupStockPhotos

A man sitting. Photo from Pixabay/StartupStockPhotos

The researchers matched behavioural surveys from 54 countries with population size and death statistics as well as an actuarial life table. They concluded that prolonged sitting led to 3.8 percent or 433,000 of all-cause deaths.

This sedentary activity had a higher impact on those who live in the Western Pacific region. The European, Eastern Mediterranean, American, and Southeast Asian nations came in next.

“Although sitting time represents a smaller impact compared with other risk factors, reducing sitting time might be an important aspect of active lifestyle promotion, especially among people with lower physical activity levels,” adds Rezende. “In other words, reducing sitting time would help people increase their volumes of physical activity along the continuum to higher physical activity levels.”

The researchers say that changing this unhealthy habit is a challenge. Despite having shown to be harmful one’s health, sitting time is dictated by factors, including social and environmental, that may get in the way of completely changing this habit.

Nevertheless, the researchers urge the public to lessen their sitting time to lessen health problems. They also assert that global action to reduce this risk factor is of utmost importance.