After an increasing amount of research has already outlined the negative effects of sitting for long periods of time, a new study has now found that long periods of inactivity are to blame for nearly 4 per cent of all deaths worldwide.
Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and carried out by researchers from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and San Jorge University in Zaragoza, Spain, the study looked at 54 countries across the world using data from between 2002 to 2011.
The data revealed that over 60 per cent of people worldwide spend more than three hours a day sitting down, with adults spending on average 4.7 hours of their day sat down.
According to the study this inactivity is causing 3.8 per cent of deaths across the world â€” approximately 433,000 deaths a year.
The team found that the highest rates of death were found in the Western Pacific, followed by parts of Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean region, America and Southeast Asia.
Looking at the results by country, the highest rates were found in Lebanon (11.6 per cent), the Netherlands (7.6 per cent) and Denmark (6.9 per cent), while the lowest rates were in Mexico (0.6 per cent), Myanmar (1.3 per cent) and Bhutan (1.6 per cent). Spain falls within the average range with 3.7 per cent of deaths, with Canada and the USA both above the average with 4.7 per cent and 4.2 per cent of deaths respectively.
Several studies published in 2012 by the journal Lancet already that showed 31 per cent of the global population fails to meet the current recommendations for physical activity, with the authors of the study calculating that increasing active time and reducing sitting time in the countries studied could increase life expectancy by 0.20 years.
According to their analysis, reducing sitting time by two hours â€” around a 50 per cent reduction on the average sitting time found in the study â€” would result in a 2.3 per cent decrease in risk of mortality (three times less). Even a reduction of just 10 percent â€” or half an hour a day -- could reduce mortality by 0.6 per cent.
The team now advise that sedentary behaviour should be minimized in order to prevent premature deaths around the world and suggest that strategic national health campaigns, such as bike-sharing systems, could be rolled out by countries to get the population moving more.