Associations between sitting time and a range of symptoms in mid-age women

Prev Med. 2013 Feb;56(2):135-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2012.12.008. Epub 2012 Dec 19.


Objective: The aim of this study was to explore longitudinal associations between sitting and physical and psychological symptoms in mid-age women.

Method: Mid-age (53-58 years) participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health completed mail surveys in 2004 (n=10,286), 2007 (n=10,128) and 2010 (n=9452) with questions about sitting time (<6, 6-9, and ≥ 9 h/day) and frequency of 19 symptoms in the preceding 12 months (often vs. never/rarely/sometimes). Associations between sitting and symptoms were examined using two logistic generalized estimating equations models: (a) sequential cross-sectional data from 3 surveys, and (b) prospective model with a 3-year time lag (significance level=0.01).

Results: Approximately 53%, 30% and 17% of the women were classified as sitting <6, 6-9 and ≥ 9 h/day in 2004. In adjusted cross-sectional models, women sitting ≥ 9 h/day had significantly higher odds of breathing difficulties (OR=1.52, 99% CI=1.17-2.00), tiredness (OR=1.21, CI=1.05-1.40), bowel problems (OR=1.26, CI=1.02-1.56), eyesight problems (OR=1.16, CI=1.01-1.34), and depression (OR=1.39, CI=1.15-1.68) than women sitting <6h/day. Adjusted prospective models showed higher odds of breathing difficulties (OR=1.94, CI=1.40-2.69), chest pain (OR=2.04, CI=1.14-3.70), and tiredness (OR=1.24, CI=1.04-1.48). Associations with breathing difficulties and chest pain remained significant after excluding participants with chronic conditions in 2004.

Conclusion: Prolonged sitting may a determinant of breathing difficulties and chest pain three years later in mid-age women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time and Motion Studies
  • Women's Health