Americans are sitting more than ever and it’s killing them, but there is some good news

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If you live a slothful (read: sedentary) life for 20 years, it’s going to catch up with you: it’s linked with a doubled risk of premature death, compared to someone who has been physically active. That’s according to the results of the HUNT study analyzing 23,146 presented at the European Society of Cardiology 2019 recently.

Study author Dr. Trine Moholdt of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in Trondheim, Norway said it’s never too late to get moving.

“Our findings imply that to get the maximum health benefits of physical activity in terms of protection against premature all-cause and cardiovascular death, you need to continue being physically active,” Moholdt said in a release.

However, there’s hope if you’ve been slacking off all these years. “You can also reduce your risk by taking up physical activity later in life, even if you have not been active before.”

American’s can’t get up

Meanwhile, another study came out revealing in detail just how much Americans are doing a certain sedentary activity – sitting.

Americans just can’t stop sitting, even though they’ve gotten the message that it increases diabetes risk, plus risk for obesity, heart disease, and cancer.

In a new study of 51,000 people, led by researchers at Washingon University School of Medicine in St. Louis and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was discovered that most Americans sit for prolonged periods every day – exactly what you’re not supposed to do,

The researchers analyzed surveys of those 51,000 from 2001 to 2016 to follow “sitting trends” – like whether it’s in front of a TV or a computer. The group was nationally representative of the U.S. population – across racial groups and age groups.

“In almost none of the groups we analyzed are the numbers going in the right direction,” said Cao, the study’s senior author, in a release.

In fact, researchers found that the daily sitting time of adults and adolescents had escalated between 2007-2016. Teens went up from seven hours daily to eight, while adults increased from five and a half hours to six and a half hours.

“Until now, we haven’t had data demonstrating the amount of time most Americans spend sitting watching TV or doing other sedentary activities,” Cao said.

More detail from the study: most Americans spend two hours a day watching TV or videos. And 62% of children ages five to 11 spend at least two hours looking at screens on a daily basis, and 65% of adults ages 20-64 do the same. Adults 65 or older watch at least two hours per day in the highest percentage, at 84%.

Also, the use of computers outside of working and school increased. At least 50% of the people across all age groups used a computer for their leisure time for more than an hour per day in the two most recent years of the study.

“How we create public policies or promote social change that supports less sitting is unclear and likely to be complicated,” said epidemiologist and co-senior author Graham A. Colditz, MD, DrPH, said.