x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Do not remain seated

Sitting down for more than three hours a day may be robbing you of two years of your life. So, what do you do about it?

You may want to stand up to read this: scientists have determined that if you sit down for fewer than three hours a day, you could add up to two years to your life.

In an article published this week in the online medical journal BMJ Open, researchers Peter T Katzmarzyk and I-Min Lee came to this conclusion after reviewing data on 167,000 Americans. They noted how long the subjects spent watching television or otherwise sitting - which, for the average American adult, is 55 per cent of the time - and its effects on their life expectancy.

The authors concede their study is limited in that it relies on the subjects' own accounts of their behaviour and it "assumes that there is a causal relationship between sedentary behaviour and mortality".

On the surface, this is bad news for those of us who spend our working days in front of computer screens and then turn into couch potatoes at night. However, it's not like they are telling us something we didn't already know or suspect.

So what can be done about this? Well, we can only agree with the researchers that "a significant shift in behaviour" - that is, switching off the TV occasionally and going out for a walk or other physical activity - can be good for you.

Of course, you might want to sit that out until the weather improves.