(HealthDay News) — Regular exercise doesn’t erase the higher risk for serious illness or premature death that comes from sitting too much each day, a new review reveals. The research is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Combing through 47 prior studies, Aviroop Biswas, a PhD candidate at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network, and colleagues found that prolonged daily sitting was linked to significantly higher odds of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dying. 

Moreover, even if study participants exercised regularly, the accumulated evidence still showed worse health outcomes for those who sat for long periods, the researchers said. However, those who did little or no exercise faced even higher health risks.

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The biggest health hazard stemming from prolonged sitting, according to the review, was a 90% higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes

Among studies examining cancer incidence and deaths, significant links were specifically noted between sedentary behavior and breast, colon, uterine and ovarian cancers. 

One study in the review showed that less than 8 hours of sitting time per day was associated with a 14% lower risk for potentially preventable hospitalization.

Among the studies reviewed, the definition of prolonged sitting ranged from 8 hours a day to 12 hours or more. 

Sitting, or sedentary activities ubiquitous with sitting such as driving, using the computer or watching television, shouldn’t comprise more than 4 to 5 hours of a person’s day, Biswas told HealthDay, citing guidelines issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada.


  1. Biswas A et al. Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(2):123-132.