Sitting Time, Fidgeting, and All-Cause Mortality in the UK Women's Cohort Study

Am J Prev Med. 2016 Feb;50(2):154-60. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.06.025. Epub 2015 Sep 23.


Introduction: Sedentary behaviors (including sitting) may increase mortality risk independently of physical activity level. Little is known about how fidgeting behaviors might modify the association.

Methods: Data were from the United Kingdom (UK) Women's Cohort Study. In 1999-2002, a total of 12,778 women (aged 37-78 years) provided data on average daily sitting time, overall fidgeting (irrespective of posture), and a range of relevant covariates including physical activity, diet, smoking status, and alcohol consumption. Participants were followed for mortality over a mean of 12 years. Proportional hazards Cox regression models estimated the relative risk of mortality in high (versus low) and medium (versus low) sitting time groups.

Results: Fidgeting modified the risk associated with sitting time (p=0.04 for interaction), leading us to separate groups for analysis. Adjusting for covariates, sitting for ≥7 hours/day (versus <5 hours/day) was associated with 30% increased all-cause mortality risk (hazard ratio [HR]=1.30, 95% CI=1.02, 1.66) only among women in the low fidgeting group. Among women in the high fidgeting group, sitting for 5-6 hours/day (versus <5 hours/day) was associated with decreased mortality risk (HR=0.63, 95% CI=0.43, 0.91), adjusting for a range of covariates. There was no increased mortality risk from longer sitting time in the middle and high fidgeting groups.

Conclusions: Fidgeting may reduce the risk of all-cause mortality associated with excessive sitting time. More detailed and better-validated measures of fidgeting should be identified in other studies to replicate these findings and identity mechanisms, particularly measures that distinguish fidgeting in a seated from standing posture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cause of Death*
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Posture
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Women's Health*