Sitting for extended periods of time throughout the day has been linked with increased risk of health problems and even with death. A new study from BMC Public Health (2013: 13[1071]) says that quality of life may also suffer in people who sit for long periods.The large study included 194,545 Australian men and women aged 45 and older who were randomly selected from the Medicare Australia database. Participants answered questions about physical activity levels and intensity, daily sitting time, and feelings of health and quality of life.

Of those surveyed, 16.5% reported excellent overall health and 25.7% reported excellent quality of life. Women who sat the least were more likely to report greater overall health and quality of life. The same was true for the most physically active women. "The study's findings bolster evidence (that it is beneficial) to increase moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and decrease time spent sitting (in order to promote) better health and...successful aging," said the authors.

"What’s the bottom line? If you have a job that requires long periods of sitting, set a timer every half an hour (or whatever works for your job) and get up and get moving for five minutes. That movement can include stretches, walking, going up or down a set of stairs, pushups, sit-ups, or anything that gets you out of your static position."

Excerpted from IDEA Fitness Journal, April 2014.