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Dublin: 15 °C Wednesday 17 July, 2019
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Sitting down for too long is as bad as smoking

Many people spend up to 80% of their waking day sitting down.

Wall-E knew this day would come.
Wall-E knew this day would come.
Image: Screengrab/YouTube.com

PROLONGED SITTING IS as dangerous to a person’s health as smoking, according to researchers at Queen’s University in Belfast.

Sitting for long periods of time has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and even early death.

Researchers at the university say it could be as big a threat to public health as smoking, if not more so.

Dr Mark Tully, from the UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health at Queen’s University, said people spend, on average, over nine hours (or up to 80% of their waking day) sitting down.

“One of the biggest threats to health is the amount of time spent sitting.

“Public health scientists have recognised the need to develop effective interventions to address the high levels of inactivity across ages, with sitting regarded as ‘the new smoking’,” Tully said.

The Queen’s researchers are part of a European consortium which has received a €4.5 million European Commission grant to help develop innovative ways to tackle sedentary behaviour and increase physical activity in older people.

Working with researchers in Spain, Denmark, Germany, France and Scotland, the four-year study will see the Queen’s team develop new ways of helping adults over 65 years of age to sit less and become more active

They will then test the methods on 1,300 people in four European countries.

Poorer kidney function 

Tully will lead the project in Northern Ireland.

Queen’s researchers have already shown that mothers who sit more during pregnancy are likely to have heavier babies, while men who spend more time sitting at work have poorer kidney function.

“During this study we hope to be able to identify effective methods to help our ageing society make positive lifestyle changes in order to improve their health and wellbeing. This programme will then be available for delivery through the health system in each of the member countries,” Tully stated.

Some suggestions that could be used to help people be more active at work are treadmill and height adjustable desks, which allow users to alternate between standing and sitting.

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Órla Ryan

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