07/15/2014 01:26 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Exercising Might Help Prevent Sitting From Killing You

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science of us
By Jesse Singal

Sitting, you may have heard, is humanity's newest and quietest mortal enemy. In a bunch of research, prolonged Lay-Z-Boy or couch or milk-crate time has been linked with earlier mortality, even controlling for a bunch of other risk factors. A new study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings complicates the picture a bit, though, and suggests that if you spend some of your non-sitting hours exercising, death by chair may be less likely.

As the press release explains, the researchers "examined the association of sedentary behavior, physical activity, and fitness to obesity and metabolic biomarkers among 1304 men seen at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas between 1981 and 2012."

What they found offers some hope in our species' ongoing struggle against ever-more-comfortable implements of sitting:

The study showed that more sedentary time was significantly associated with higher levels of systolic blood pressure, and total cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as lower levels of HDL, the "good" cholesterol. It was also associated with BMI, waist circumference, and body fat percentage. But when researchers controlled for fitness, they found prolonged sedentary time was only significantly associated with a higher triglyceride/HDL cholesterol ratio (an indicator of insulin resistance). Sedentary time was not associated with metabolic syndrome (a clustering of risk factors).

This isn't the first recent study showing that exercise can help ameliorate some of the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle, and it suggests that you shouldn't pull a Dan Kois just yet.

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