July 15, 2015

Time sitting affects both health and health costs



Research from Dr. Dori Rosenberg and colleagues extends findings about the effects of sitting to veterans and older people.

We know that exercise and activity are generally good for health. We're now learning that lack of activity, specifically spending a lot of time sitting, can be a signal that a person has poor health and might be at risk of having higher health care costs.

Two recent studies from Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) Assistant Investigator Dori Rosenberg, PhD, MPH, and colleagues looked at the connection between time spent sitting and overall health in U.S. veterans and older people.

Every added hour of daily sitting increased a person's annual health care costs by $126.

The study on people over age 65, in the open access journal Preventive Medicine Reports, showed that the study participants spent about five to seven hours a day sitting. More time sitting was linked to being overweight or obese, having diabetes or heart disease, and self-reported poor health. The study estimated that every added hour of daily sitting increased a person's annual health care costs by $126. Dr. Rosenberg’s GHRI collaborators on the study were Drs. Andrea Cook, Nancy Gell, Paula Lozano, and David Arterburn; and Lou Grothaus.

In the study on veterans, published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Dr. Rosenberg and colleagues found that more time sitting was linked to health problems such as depression. More physical activity and having a job were connected to more activity. These findings give physicians, patients, and health care researchers specific ideas about how to help people, reduce sitting time and improve health.

These articles and other projects by Dr. Rosenberg add to growing evidence that a simple change in daily habits—to spend more time standing or otherwise being active and less time sitting—might improve health in many of us, including veterans and older people.


by Chris Tachibana


Andrea J. Cook, PhD

Senior Investigator
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

Paula Lozano, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute;
Associate Medical Director for Research and Translation & Physician, Pediatrics, Washington Permanente Medical Group

David E. Arterburn, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator, KPWHRI; Physician, Washington Permanente Medical Group, Internal Medicine
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute