Standing and mortality in a prospective cohort of Canadian adults

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014;46(5):940-6. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000198.


Purpose: Several studies have documented significant associations between sedentary behaviors such as sitting or television viewing and premature mortality. However, the associations between mortality and other low-energy-expenditure activities such as standing have not been explored. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between daily standing time and mortality among 16,586 Canadian adults 18-90 yr of age.

Methods: Information on self-reported time spent standing as well as several covariates including smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity readiness, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was collected at baseline in the 1981 Canada Fitness Survey. Participants were followed for an average of 12.0 yr for the ascertainment of mortality status.

Results: There were 1785 deaths (743 from cardiovascular disease [CVD], 530 from cancer, and 512 from other causes) in the cohort. After adjusting for age, sex, and additional covariates, time spent standing was negatively related to mortality rates from all causes, CVD, and other causes. Across successively higher categories of daily standing, the multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios were 1.00, 0.79, 0.79, 0.73, and 0.67 for all-cause mortality (P for trend <0.0001); 1.00, 0.82, 0.84, 0.68, and 0.75 for CVD mortality (P for trend 0.02); and 1.00, 0.76, 0.63, 0.67, and 0.65 for other mortality (P for trend <0.001). There was no association between standing and cancer mortality. There was a significant interaction between physical activity and standing (P < 0.05), and the association between standing and mortality was significant only among the physically inactive (<7.5 MET·h·wk).

Conclusions: The results suggest that standing may not be a hazardous form of behavior. Given that mortality rates declined at higher levels of standing, standing may be a healthier alternative to excessive periods of sitting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Posture*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult