According to a new study suggests too much sleep and inactivity are unhealthy. Researchers found that people who spend most of the day sitting and sleeping too much may be as likely to die early as people who smoke or drink too much.
A research Institute’s study included more than 230,000 people in Australia ages 45 and older. For each participant, the researchers counted how many unhealthy behaviours he or she engaged in, including smoking, drinking alcohol, eating unhealthy foods, being physical inactive, exhibiting sedentary behaviours and sleeping too much (which the researchers defined as more than 9 hours per night).
About 30 percent of the participants reported engaging in two or three of the behaviours. After six years, nearly 16,000 people in the study had died.
The researchers found that people who were not physically active were 1.6 times more likely to die than those who were physically active (defined by the study as “undertaking more than 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every week.”)
But the study also showed that the combination of physical inactivity with sedentary behaviour, or physical inactivity with too much sleep, were as strongly linked to mortality among the participants as the combination of smoking with heavy drinking.
“Physical inactivity alone had a strong association with mortality. When people combined physical inactivity with long sleep times and extended periods of sitting, the negative effects were even more dramatic, with the combined risk for death increasing by up to four times as much as in those who were sedentary and slept too much, but at least got some exercise, study author explained.
The researchers noted they did not incorporate other long-term lifestyle practices or conditions that might have played a part in increasing some participants’ mortality risks. And the participants’ interpretations of their own behaviours and its health impacts could have been faulty, skewing the study’s results.
While the study’s conclusion that healthier behaviours could reduce mortality risk seems like an obvious one, linking risky behaviours together could present new strategies for prolonging life.
“Physical activity is the one factor to address first,” study noted. If certain combinations of risk behaviours pose more of a threat than risk behaviours on their own, eliminating even one of them is a good choice for overall health.