A study by the American Cancer Society, the Cooper Institute and the University of Texas suggests that being in good physical shape could safeguard individuals from the risks of sedentary behavior, including but not limited to obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Those involved say previous studies about the health risks of physical inactivity do not take fitness and its health-protective attributes fully into account and that research needs to steer in that direction, especially since the study in question only involves men.
In the study, which started in 1981, researchers at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas assessed the fitness of 1,304 men and compiled the data with their self-reported sedentary time.
According to expectations, results indicate an association between sitting and higher levels of systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, BMI, waist circumference and body fat percentage.
However, after fitness was taken into account, the only significant association between sedentary time and adverse health conditions was a higher ratio of triglycerides/HDL cholesterol, which carries increased risk of hyperglycemia.
The traditional cluster of risks associated with sedentary time was no longer a factor among the physically fit.
Last week, a study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found two hours of sitting could have as much of an adverse affect on health as twenty minutes of exercise could do somebody good.
"Our data suggest that sedentary behavior may increase risk through an impact on lower fitness levels," said Dr. Jarrett Berry, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Clinical Science and senior author of the study previous study, "and that avoiding sedentary behavior throughout the day may represent an important companion strategy to improve fitness and health, outside of regular exercise activity."
If the findings of the new study are true, Berry's advice applies best to the less-fit population and those who are in good physical shape and exercise regularly need not worry.
Researchers are encouraged by the results of the most recent study, although they acknowledge its limitations, most notably the self-reporting of sedentary time.
The study was also published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.