A STUDY undertaken by researchers at the University of Limerick has found that teenage girls spend an average of 19 hours a day either sitting or lying down.
Over 100 girls aged between 15 and 18 took part in the study which measured how much time they spent sitting, standing or lying down using a small accelerometer device.
The researchers found that the total amount of time spent sitting and lying down was the same on weekdays as on Saturdays and Sundays.
However, the results of the study show that on weekdays the total amount of time spent sitting or lying down was accumulated through longer periods of inactivity lasting 20 minutes or more.
The research found that these long periods of sitting were more frequent on days when the girls were attending school.
Professor of Exercise Physiology at the University of Limerick Alan Donnelly said the findings of the study are of concern and may have implications for the girls health.
“Research has found that sitting for long periods is considered to be associated with an increased risk of long-term poor health. Though sitting too much won’t seriously harm adolescents now, it is likely that this behaviour will contribute to the accumulation of a greater long-term risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” he said.
Prof Donnelly said experts have found that sitting down or lying down for excessive periods can have a serious impact of people’s health.
“This is now seen by many researchers as being a different risk to lack of exercise. In other words, you might do enough physical activity, but if you sit for the rest of the day, it will still have health consequences.”
The research work was undertaken at the University of Limerick by PhD students Deirdre Harrington and Kieran Dowd under the supervision of Prof Alan Donnelly.
Dr Alan Bourke from the Department of Electronics and Computer Engineering also collaborated with the research teams and representatives of the County Limerick Local Sports Partnership also assisted throughout the process.
The team are continuing the research and are currently tracking the behaviour and health of 70 girls by measuring how their sitting time and physical activity affects blood cholesterol markers and risk factors for diabetes.
The findings of the study were was first published last year in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.