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Sit Less to Seriously Boost Longevity, Study Says

May 17, 2024

You know how important your workouts are to your overall health — stronger muscles and bones, better sleep, boosted mood, more energy. But another habit is just as important for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and promoting longevity: Getting up to move regularly throughout the day, a new study shows. 

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What the study says about longevity and heart health

Here are some key findings in the study, which was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, and focused on older women:

  • Participants who sat for more than 11.6 hours per day had a 57% higher risk of all‐cause death than participants who sat for fewer than 9.3 hours per day
  • The same group had 78% higher risk of cardiovascular disease death 
  • Participants who sat for bouts of more than 15 minutes at a time also faced increased mortality risk
  • Those who sat the longest and for the longest durations at a time had the biggest mortality risk

Importantly, the findings were consistent even accounting for participants who exercise. 

Related: 5 Super Fun Ways You Can Get Some Exercise Without Even Realizing It

How to sit less

With work, screen time, commuting, and other daily habits, it’s easy to forget to get up and move around. And if you have a regular workout routine, you may have thought that was enough to check off the “movement” box. Here are some simple ways to get yourself up and moving regularly throughout the day:

  • Set a timer. Set alarms on your phone, tablet, or laptop to remind you to get up every 15 minutes. Walk around the room, do a quick set of something like squats or pushups — even just stretch for a minute before sitting down again.
  • Drink more water. The act of refilling your cup (and the subsequent pee breaks you’ll need) can be a good way to get you up and moving regularly. Game-ify it by giving yourself a challenge of how many times you’ll refill your cup. Add a rubber band around the cup to signify each time you have to refill. (Bonus: You’ll stay hydrated, too.)
  • Have movement “snacks” all day. Visit someone in your office instead of emailing, walk to a local coffee shop to get your morning brew, do a physical task around the house you’ve been putting off (clearing a shelf or a drawer, unpacking a mystery box that’s been in your garage since you moved in). 
  • Walk or bike instead of driving. If something is within a mile or two, leave the car and stroll or ride.
  • Stand or walk around during phone calls.
  • Play with your pet. Stand up and toss the ball, play tug, or chase them around (if they enjoy that).

Read next: A Doctor’s Four Pillars for Longevity


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