Sitting is the new smoking 31 March 2014 A new study of over 93,000 women has found that those with the highest amounts of sedentary behaviour increased their risk of all-cause mortality when compared with more active women. This study followed women, aged 50-79 at the outset of the study, for over 12 years and was recently published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. The groundbreaking news is that the association between sedentary behaviour and mortality remained even when physical mobility and function, chronic disease status, demographic factors and overall fitness were controlled â€“ meaning that even habitual exercisers are at risk if they have high amounts of idle time. Results of the study showed women with more than 11 hours of daily sedentary time faced a 12% increase in all-cause premature mortality compared with the most active group â€“ those with 4 hours or less of inactivity. The sedentary group also increased their odds for death due to cardiovascular disease by 13%, coronary heart disease by 27% and cancer by 21%. Until recently, the assumption has been that if you are fit and physically active, that will protect you, even if you spend large amounts of time sitting each day. However new research shows that in doing so you are far less protected from negative health effects of being sedentary than you realise. Worse still, excess sedentary time tends to make it harder to regain physical strength and function. Women begin to lose muscle mass at age 35, a change that accelerates with menopause. Regular exercise, especially resistance exercise, helps to counteract these declines. In general, a use it or lose it philosophy applies. We have a lot of modern conveniences and technologies that, while making us more efficient, also lead to decreased activity and diminished ability to do things. Women need to find ways to remain active which means increasing incidental activity levels by moving as often as possible. Examples include taking regular breaks when sitting in front of a computer or TV for prolonged periods, opting to use stairs rather than elevators or escalators and parking the car further away from your destination. So before you plonk down in front of the TV to veg out for the evening or sit in front of a computer for hours on end, remember that poor health outcomes have been linked with prolonged sedentary time despite volume of exercise performed.