Stanford hosts sitting risks conference

Neville Owen, from the University of Queensland in Australia, sits on a exercise ball during a conference on sitting at the Center on Longevity on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, Calif., Thursday, July 15, 2010. Experts talk about the dangers of sitting for long periods of time and taking breaks are encouraged. He was one of the main speakers at the conference. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

July 15, 2010 11:49:57 PM PDT
You know about the negative effects of smoking or of eating fatty foods, but what about just sitting there? It turns out, too much seat time can be dangerous and even deadly. There is a Stanford conference focusing on the rarely-studied topic.

"I would say I sit maybe four to six hours at work," says Megan Pescon from Mountain View.

Rita Duarte from San Jose says she sits for maybe 10 hours a day.

Sitting is something we all do while working, eating, and driving. Most people don't really think about it, but some researchers do. They are at Stanford for a two-day conference on the science of sedentary behavior, or sitting.

"The act of sitting may in and of itself creates health problems, sitting for long periods of time," says Ken Smith from the Stanford Center on Longevity.

These scientists want to replace theory with science. They want to prove what many already think -- that too much sitting can lead to major health problems, like obesity, heart disease, and even cancer.

"When you sit down, you unload many of your muscle groups. There is in fact, animal data that says that some of the muscles themselves, lose a significant ability to metabolize fat," says Smith.

Researchers ABC7 spoke with say the average person sits for about seven hours a day, but once the number goes higher, to eight or nine hours a day of sitting, those people had more health problems.

"Sitting we know, it leads to risk factors for diabetes, they're the same risk factors for heart disease and they're also related to the likelihood of developing breast or colon cancer," says Neville Owen, Ph.D., from the Ph.D.,University of Queensland.

"It surprises me," says Donald Drott from Mountain View.

The research is preliminary and that's why the scientists want more data. Their goal is to help shape federal guidelines, similar to ones that already exist for how much to exercise and eat daily. However, in this case, they want recommendations for just how long it's healthy to take a load off.


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