Sitting all day raises your risk of cancer, says study

We all know that sitting for hours on end isn’t the best thing we can do for our health.

And yet there we go again, lounging on the sofa all weekend and sitting in front of a computer for hours at work.

Need a reminder of why it’s so important to take breaks from sitting and move around? Take note of the latest study here to tell you that sitting is terrible for your health.

A new study published on Thursday suggests that too much sitting can raise your risk of cancer – and early death.

The good news, though, is that researchers found that even just replacing half an hour of sitting with some light exercise can lower your risk. Every little helps, basically, and you don’t need to have a super physically active job to boost your health – just try not too sit down for long periods.

The study asked 8,000 people to wear an accelerometer to track their movement over the course of a week between 2009 and 2013.

After five years, researchers found that the people who were the most sedentary – meaning they spent the most time sitting – were 82% more likely to have died from cancer compared to the least sedentary people, even after adjusting the results for age, sex, and disease.

But people who replaced 30 minutes of sitting with a light form of movement, such as walking, reduced their risk of cancer by 8%.

We repeat: that’s a reduction just by walking for half an hour instead of sitting, not by devising some intensive workout routine. Just having a stroll on your lunch break or asking to walk and talk rather than having a seated meeting can make a difference (although of course more exercise than this is encouraged).

Swapping 30 minutes of sitting for moderate activity, such as brisk walking, going for a cycle, dancing, and gardening, had even greater benefits, reducing cancer risk by 31%.

The study’s lead author, Dr Susan Gilchrist, said: ‘Conversations with my patients always begin with why they don’t have time to exercise. I tell them to consider standing up for 5 minutes every hour at work or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It might not sound like a lot, but this study tells us even light activity has cancer survival benefits.

‘Our findings reinforce that it’s important to “sit less and move more”. Incorporating 30 minutes of movement into your daily life can help reduce your risk of death from cancer.’

The research is just the latest in a long line of studies encouraging us to stop sitting for hours and increase our time moving around.

Sitting at a desk all day has previously been found to increase the risk of prostate cancer, raise your likelihood of having depression, and make you more likely to die early.

So perhaps get up and have a stretch. Now. Please.

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