Don't stay sedentary for more than three hours, or you'll shave two years off your life. (Flickr/Sean MacEntee)

Stand Up for Your Health: Three Simple Tips to Add Two Years to Your Lifespan


Sitting down for more than three hours a day can cut a person's life expectancy by two years—even if he or she is generally physically active, according to a study published June 10 in the online journal BMJ.

Co-author of the study I-Min Lee, a researcher in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, recommends three ways to reduce your sitting time, and in turn save two years of your life, reported The Wall Street Journal:

1) When riding the subway or any form of public transportation, don't rush to find a seat. Stand instead.

2) If you're reading, try to do so standing up.

3) For those who work in an office, install motion sensors for lights. If you've been sitting relatively motionless for too long, you'll know.

There are even more reasons to ditch your chair than premature death. Sitting too long also heightens your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases like obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, reported the Huffington Post. Furthermore, regularly sitting down raises your cancer risk. Luckily, there is evidence that physical activity can reverse your likelihood of developing colon and breast cancer, HealthDay News reported.

And for those who spend several hours in front of the TV or partaking in leisure activities that involve sitting daily, knocking off two of those hours could add as many as 1.38 years to your lifespan, according to a report that analyzed five studies of nearly 167,000 people over a range of four to 14 years.

In an effort to avoid being sedentary for excessive periods, Dr. Lee is a strong proponent of the motion detector lights.

“My office is long in dimension, so the sensor is quite a distance from where I sit. It has been annoying me that the lights go off periodically, since it doesn’t sense me. Maybe that’s a good thing—every so often, I have to go jump up and down to activate the sensor!” she told the WSJ in an email. She recommends making the sensor "less sensitive" so it is more apt to turn off the lights.

The other advantage: “Besides making one get up and move, it’s energy saving,” Dr. Lee said.

Related: Sitting Too Long Shortens Life

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