ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Sedentary Life - Same Risk as Smoking

Updated on February 24, 2023
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.


Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle is now considered to have equal risk to smoking as it negatively impacts health. “The American Heart Association’s current recommendations are “Sit Less, Move More,’

The British Journal of General Practice stated if an alien came to earth this is what they would see, “After 6 million years of hunter-gatherer existence, humans can be observed sheltering in warm rooms, counteracting the tiresome effects of earth’s gravity by slouching on comfortable seats in front of glowing screens, being whisked effortlessly between floors aboard mechanical staircases, even soaring across continents while seated in warm moving boxes.”

Study: Sedentary Lifestyle Worse For Your Health Than Smoking, Diabetes Or Heart Disease

Medical Study by Keith M Diaz, MD

Keith M. Diaz, MD and his team completed a large study over 4 years using 7,985 black and white Americans that were 45 years of age and they were recruited from REGARDS (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke) study. They used an accelerometer, and they found sedentary participants had more heart disease when the 4 year study concluded. This is not surprising but now it is proven. The participants wore the accelerometer on their right hip, which they wore when they were not in bed for 7 days straight.

Previous studies had only used subjective data, so human error and bias is likely. This study looked at the relationship between the length of sedentary periods of time and the risk of mortality.

The team followed the participants every 6 months over an average of 4 years. During those 4 years, 340 participants died. Those participants had been sedentary for long periods of time. The all-cause mortality had nothing to do with BMI, age, race, sex, cardiovascular risk nor did they do moderate to more vigorous exercise. The participants that had the largest amount of sedentary time were most likely smoking, were older, were black, and many people had diabetes, dyslipidemia, high blood pressure, a higher BMI, atrial fibrillation, a history of heart disease or stroke.

No matter the cause, periods of sitting for 60-90 or more minutes was associated with an increased risk of death. “The interval of 1 to 29 minutes was linked to the least risk of all-cause mortality, which is in line with current physical activity guidelines.”

This study noted that the current guidelines do not specify a way for Americans to reduce the time they spend sitting. Certainly, many jobs are at a desk and computer so people are sitting for long periods of time. The study revealed that more than 77% of waking hours are spent sitting, which is equivalent to 12.3 in 16 hours of being awake. A possible recommendation by Dias is for “30 minutes of sitting, standing up and moving or walking for 5 minutes at a brisk pace to reduce the health risks from sitting.”


University of California Study

In this study 5,000 racially diverse women between 63-97 were studied over a 5 year period of time. The women also wore an accelerometer for a week. The researchers found similar results for these women over this 5 year period. There were 545 cardiovascular events during this study.

A sedentary lifestyle causes heart disease, cancers and the thinning in particular brain regions. A sedentary lifestyle is also connected to the length of time spent sitting on each occasion. Every hour of sedentary time was associated with a 12% risk of multivariable adjusted risk for CVD. The researchers found that exercise did not always eliminate the risk of prolonged sitting time.

The researcher also stated, “a one-hour reduction in sedentary time could reduce CVD risk by 12% for women who are typically sedentary for 8 hours/day as well as for women who are typically sedentary for 12 hours/day.” Working out just on the weekends does not necessarily undo the hours of sitting all week.

One of the mechanisms that may explain this finding is the possibility that sitting reduces muscle movement and blood flow and this reduces any muscle movement, thus blood flow. This problem will also contribute to a problem in metabolizing glucose. If blood vessel function is impaired then it can harm heart cells and other cells.

“The body achieves what the mind believes.”


Cancers Possibly Caused by a Sedentary Lifestyle

Christing Friedenreich, an epidemiologist at Alberta Health Services-Cancer Care in Canada, stated that 173,000 cancer cases in the U.S., are due to the sedentary lifestyle.

The cancers included:

  • Breast cancer - 49,000
  • Colon cancer - 43,000
  • Lung cancer - 37,200
  • Prostate cancer - 30,600
  • Endometrial cancer - 12,000
  • Ovarian cancer - 1,800

There is no definitive proof that these cancers are caused by inactivity but the numbers and new studies are alarming. One marker that is present is a higher level of C-reactive protein blood level in people who spend much of their time sitting.

We Got a Treadmill Desk - Here's What Happened

Final Thoughts

If you are sitting for long hours at work, rise regularly from 5-6 times each hour or at least move around. Even stretching in your chair or fidgeting is some movement. Frequent small movements may break the sedentary pattern.

If you can take a brisk walk in the morning or evening that will definitely help break the sedentary pattern but you still need to move as often as possible when sitting behind a desk.

If possible, get a gym membership and try to exercise at least every other day. The World Health Organization states that people 18-64 years of age should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Pamela Oglesby


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)