Benefits of replacing sitting time with activities


Researchers wanted to uncover what, if any, the benefits of replacing sitting time with exercise and activities were.

Why is this important?

The effects of replacing time spent with other activities has not been explored.

What was done?

A survey of over 300,000 older adults was administered, identifying how much time individuals spent sitting and in exercise and other activities.

What was found?

Increased time spent sitting was associated with increased risk of death. Replacing sitting time with activities, especially purposeful exercise, decreased the risk of death.

How does this effect me?

Increase your chances of living longer by avoiding sitting and replacing this time with activities. For example, instead of watching an extra episode on TV, go for a walk.

Article Abstract
Prolonged sitting has emerged as a risk factor for early mortality, but the extent of benefit realized by replacing sitting time with exercise, or activities of everyday living (i.e. non-exercise activities), is not known.

We prospectively followed 154,614 older adults (59–82 years) in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study who reported no major chronic diseases at baseline and reported detailed information about sitting time, exercise, non-exercise activities. Proportional hazards models were used to estimate adjusted hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals (HR [95%CI]) for mortality. An isotemporal modeling approach was used to estimate associations for replacing sitting time with specific types of physical activity, with separate models fit for less active and more active participants to account for non-linear associations.

During 6.8 (SD=1.0) years of follow-up 12,201 deaths occurred. Greater sitting time (≥ 12 vs. < 5 hrs/d) was associated with increased risk for all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. In less active adults (< 2 hrs/d total activity), replacing one hour of sitting per day with an equal amount of activity was associated with lower all-cause mortality for both exercise (HR=0.58 [0.54,0.63]) and non-exercise activities (HR=0.70 [0.66,0.74]), including household chores, lawn and garden work, and daily walking. Among more active participants (2+ hrs/d total activity) replacement of sitting time with purposeful exercise was associated with lower mortality (HR=0.91 [0.88–0.94]), but not with non-exercise activity (HR=1.00 [0.98–1.02]). Similar results were noted for cardiovascular mortality.

Physical activity intervention strategies for older adults often focus on aerobic exercise, but our findings suggest that reducing sitting time and engaging in a variety of activities is also important, particularly for inactive adults.

Keywords: sedentary behavior, prevention, lifestyle activities, cancer

Article Citation

Matthews, C.E., Moore, S., Sampson, J., Blair, A., Xiao, Q., Keadle, S., Hollenbeck., Park, Y. (2014). Mortality benefits for replacing sitting time with different activities. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

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