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Clinical Studies and Practice

Time spent in sedentary posture is associated with waist circumference and cardiovascular risk



The relationship between metabolic risk and time spent sitting, standing and stepping has not been well established. The present study aimed to determine associations of objectively measured time spent siting, standing and stepping, with coronary heart disease (CHD) risk.


A cross-sectional study of healthy non-smoking Glasgow postal workers, n=111 (55 office workers, 5 women, and 56 walking/delivery workers, 10 women), who wore activPAL physical activity monitors for 7 days. Cardiovascular risks were assessed by metabolic syndrome categorisation and 10-year PROCAM (prospective cardiovascular Munster) risk.


Mean (s.d.) age was 40 (8) years, body mass index 26.9 (3.9) kg m−2 and waist circumference 95.4 (11.9) cm. Mean (s.d.) high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) 1.33 (0.31), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol 3.11 (0.87), triglycerides 1.23 (0.64) mmol l−1 and 10-year PROCAM risk 1.8 (1.7)%. The participants spent mean (s.d.) 9.1 (1.8) h per day sedentary, 7.6 (1.2) h per day sleeping, 3.9 (1.1) h per day standing and 3.3 (0.9) h per day stepping, accumulating 14 708 (4984) steps per day in 61 (25) sit-to-stand transitions per day. In univariate regressions—adjusting for age, sex, family history of CHD, shift worked, job type and socioeconomic status—waist circumference (P=0.005), fasting triglycerides (P=0.002), HDL cholesterol (P=0.001) and PROCAM risk (P=0.047) were detrimentally associated with sedentary time. These associations remained significant after further adjustment for sleep, standing and stepping in stepwise regression models. However, after further adjustment for waist circumference, the associations were not significant. Compared with those without the metabolic syndrome, participants with the metabolic syndrome were significantly less active—fewer steps, shorter stepping duration and longer time sitting. Those with no metabolic syndrome features walked >15 000 steps per day or spent >7 h per day upright.


Longer time spent in sedentary posture is significantly associated with higher CHD risk and larger waist circumference.

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This research was funded by Glasgow Caledonian University as part of a PhD project.

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Correspondence to W W Tigbe.

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Competing interests

This research was funded by Glasgow Caledonian University as part of a PhD project. Although MHG is a director of PAL Technologies Ltd., this research is not intended in any way to promote the activPAL monitor or the company. The research of NS is supported by the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK. The research of MEJL is supported by Diabetes UK and by Counterweight Ltd. The remaining author declares no conflict of interest.

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Tigbe, W., Granat, M., Sattar, N. et al. Time spent in sedentary posture is associated with waist circumference and cardiovascular risk. Int J Obes 41, 689–696 (2017).

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