Study: Sitting Takes Toll on Kids

Seating & wheeled mobility professionals are well aware of the many risks of prolonged sitting, and recent studies have suggested that able-bodied people should also intersperse their bouts of sitting with plenty of standing.

But a new study now says that prolonged sitting even takes a toll on children who don’t have mobility impairments.

Investigators who penned a September study called “Impact of Prolonged Sitting on Vascular Function in Young Girls” began with the fact that children are sedentary for 60 percent of the time they are awake, which figures out to be five to seven hours per day.

“The consequences of excessive sedentary behavior are not well understood in the child, but there is growing evidence that with increasing sedentary time, cardiovascular risk in childhood also increases,” the study said.

Researchers worked with nine girls who were 7 to 10 years old. None of the girls “had any physical limitations or chronic disease,” the report said, though two of the girls were considered overweight.

The girls spent two three-hour periods sitting on beanbag seats and engaging in quiet activities, such as watching movies, reading and playing on iPads. In one session, the girls took a 10-minute break to use exercise cycles. In the other session, the girls remained sedentary the entire time.

Researchers found that during the uninterrupted three-hour periods of sitting, the children showed “a profound (33 percent) reduction in vascular function.” That reduction was not seen in the sessions that included 10-minute breaks on the exercise cycles.

“Given the increasing periods of time that children are spending seated, these data highlight the importance of not merely sitting there, but taking regular exercise breaks,” the report concluded.

Researchers were Ali M. McManus, Philip N. Ainslie, Ryan G. Simair, Kurt Smith and Nia Lewis from the Centre for Heart, Lung and Vascular Health at the University of British Columbia; and Daniel J. Green from the School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, the University of Western Australia, and the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moors University, United Kingdom.

The study was published in Experimental Physiology in September.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at

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