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Long hours spent sitting at the computer or television is an invitation to many diseases, says a new study. Reuters

Sitting for long hours at a stretch invites higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and death, regardless of regular exercise, says a new review study.

Those who do not exercise at all are of course at higher risk.

"Avoiding sedentary time and getting regular exercise are both important for improving your health and survival," said Dr David Alter, Senior Scientist, Toronto Rehab, University Health Network (UHN), and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. "It is not good enough to exercise for 30 minutes a day and be sedentary for 23 and half hours."

Strategies people can use to reduce sitting time should look at decreasing sedentary time by two to three hours in a 12-hour day.

For example, at work, stand up or move for one to three minutes every half hour. When watching television, stand or exercise during commercials.

"We need further research to better understand how much physical activity is needed to offset the health risks associated with long sedentary time and optimize our health," said Avi Biswas, lead author of the study.

The study published in Annals of Internal Medicine was led by Biswas, research student at Toronto Rehab, UHN and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, and the senior author is Dr Alter.