A study of British civil servants shows that sitting for over 25 hours a week during non-working hours can increase the risk of becoming obese fourfold compared with people who are more active.
Researchers from University College London (UCL) analysed 3,670 civil servants. The study participants were largely male (73%) and had an average age of 56 years old. Levels of sitting and physical activity were assessed by a questionnaire taken between 1997 and 1999. Participants were then monitored for more than 10 years.
The results showed that people who sat down, for over 25 hours during their leisure time and exercised less than 90 minutes had a four times higher risk of developing obesity than participants who spent less than 12 hours of their weekly leisure time sitting and exercised for more than 4 hours per week.
Whilst most of us understand that being more active decreases the likelihood of becoming obese, and in turn decreases the risks type 2 diabetes risk, heart disease and other long term health conditions, it is striking to see how much of an effect sitting for long periods can have.
If you are concerned about how long you are sitting for in your leisure time, or you are unsure how long you are sitting for, you may want to keep a diary of how long you sit for during a week and how long you are exercising. If you are sitting for a longer duration, set yourself a target to reduce your sitting and increase your activity instead.

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