- Watching less than two hours of TV a day could increase lifetime by 18months
PUBLISHED: 20:29 EST, 9 July 2012 | UPDATED: 20:44 EST, 9 July 2012
It’s enough to make you get up immediately and go for a walk.
Scientists claim that you could extend your life by two years simply by not sitting down for hours on end.
They have discovered that adults who are only seated for a maximum of three hours a day typically live an extra two years.
Watching television has a similar effect, according to the researchers’ calculations.
Those of us who limit our daily viewing to two hours live for nearly a year and a half longer, they claim.
Experts have long blamed our increasingly sedentary lifestyles for rising levels of obesity and a lack of fitness.
This in turn is linked to heart problems, diabetes and many forms of cancer.
And these latest findings will no doubt cause concern amongst office workers who spend most of the day at their desks.
But there is evidence that even simple measures – such as taking the stairs instead of the lift and walking over to speak to colleagues – can help keep the heart healthy.
Only last year the chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies urged workers to stand up whenever they took a phone call to limit the time they spent sat down.
This latest research – published online in the journal BMJ Open – looked at previous studies involving 167,000 adults aged 18 to 90.
They had all compared how much time people had spent sitting down and watching television with how long they had lived.
The researchers from Louisiana University, the US, calculate that 27 per cent of all deaths in America are partly caused by adults spending too much time sitting down.
Similarly 19 per cent of all deaths are in part due to watching too much TV.
They concluded: ‘The results of this study indicate that extended sitting time and TV viewing may have the potential to reduce life expectancy in the US.’
Natasha Stewart, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘It does highlight what we already know about sedentary behaviour being a risk factor for developing heart disease. And recent UK guidelines suggested we should all minimize the time we spend sitting down.
‘We all need to be regularly active to keep our hearts healthy. 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.’
But other experts said the research certainly did not prove sitting down for too long shortened your life expectancy.
Professor David Spiegelhalter, Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, said: ‘This is a study of populations, and does not tell you personally what the effect of getting off the sofa might be.
‘It seems plausible that if future generations moved around a bit more, then they might live longer on average. But very few of us currently spend less than three hours sitting each day, and so this seems a very optimistic target.