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Too much sitting can kill: Official

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Swedish scientists have warned that too much sitting on your backside can provoke cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

That's pretty obvious, you might think, but the researchers from the Karolinska Institute and the Swedish School of Sport and Health warn that the excessively sedentary are running serious risks, irrespective of how much exercise they do when they're not plonked behind a desk, or lying on the sofa.

Those who are "already insufficiently physically active" will, unsurprisingly, "increase their risk even further by prolonged sitting time".

Dr Elin Ekblom-Bak, who led the study, said: “Everyone knows about the health benefits of regular exercise. But what we have not been alerted to before is that long periods sitting down carries an extra risk that cannot be dealt with by taking exercise. There are a growing number of studies that show this.

“One study compared two groups of sedentary office workers, one of whom had regular breaks to move around while the other remained sitting for up to eight hours a day. The group that had the breaks had better blood lipid levels and blood glucose and less obesity.”

The solution is, Ekblom-Bak explained, to get up off your backside. He stressed: “It is important to have a five minute break from desk work every 45 minutes. Don’t email colleagues - walk across the office to give them the message. Take a coffee break or put the printer in the next room. I am a desk worker and I try to do it. It is not difficult but sometimes you get lost in your work and you forget about it.”

The docs also offered the standard advice of using the stairs instead of the lift and walking when possible. They noted: “In the demanding and stressful society of the present, to prescribe these low and minimally time-consuming efforts may encourage many people with problems in maintaining a sufficient level of exercise.” ®

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