Sitting for more than three hours per day is responsible for nearly four percent of deaths in the world, shows an analysis of surveys from 54 countries around the world.
Reducing sitting time to less than three hours per day would increase life expectancy by an average of 0.2 years, the researchers estimated.
In order to properly assess the damaging effects of sitting, the study analysed behavioural surveys from 54 countries around the world and matched them with statistics on population size, actuarial table and overall deaths.
Researchers found that sitting time significantly impacted all-cause mortality, accounting for approximately 433,000, or 3.8 percent, of all deaths across the 54 nations in the study.
They also found that sitting had higher impact on mortality rates in the Western Pacific region, followed by European, Eastern Mediterranean, American, and Southeast Asian countries, respectively.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
While researchers found that sitting contributed to all-cause mortality, they also estimated the impact from reduced sitting time independent of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
“It was observed that even modest reductions, such as a 10 percent reduction in the mean sitting time or a 30-minute absolute decrease of sitting time per day, could have an instant impact in all-cause mortality in the 54 evaluated countries, whereas bolder changes (for instance, 50 percent decrease or two hours fewer) would represent at least three times fewer deaths versus the 10 percent or 30-minute reduction scenarios,” explained lead investigator Leandro Rezende from the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine in Brazil.