Sitting too long might kill you - study

A new study has found sitting too long may kill you, with researchers urging people to take a stand against sitting.

A study on over 100,000 people across 21 countries found those who sat for six to eight hours a day had a 12 to 13 percent increased risk for an early death and heart disease, while the risk for those who sat more than eight hours daily increased to a sobering 20 percent.

Auckland University of Technology public health Professor Grant Schofield, who has been studying the health effects of sitting in New Zealand for the last 20 years, said he is not surprised by the results.

"Sitting, even if you're active, is likely to add risk to poor health," Prof Schofield told Ryan Bridge on AM.

While Prof Schofield said it is good to be active and go to the gym, sitting for long periods still has an additional effect on your health.

The study found participants who were the least active had up to a 50 percent risk for early death and heart disease, while the most active participants' risk was substantially lower, it was still a significant increase of 17 percent.

"When you sit for even an hour and a half straight then already you start to get changes in gene transcription and the way that you store and metabolise fat, the way that you deal with glucose. All of these markers of your metabolism change that quickly."

The solution Prof Schofield has implemented in his workplace is having standing desks with stools for people to alternate between sitting and standing.

"It's not so much the time that's spent sitting but can you break it? Can you keep breaking it?" He said.