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NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) – Evidence is piling up that too much sitting can take a serious toll on your health.

A new study links sitting for prolonged periods of time to increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and early death — even in people who get regular exercise.

“Even if you do a half an hour or an hour or of exercise every day, doesn’t give us the reassurance that sitting for the other 23 hours is okay. In fact, it’s not,” said Dr. David Alter of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, one of the authors of the study.

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The study, published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine, is based on a review and analysis of previous research. It found that the health hazards seem to be greatest for people who sit eight or nine hours a day. The impact was even more pronounced in people who did not exercise regularly.

The average person spends more than half of their waking hours sedentary, doing such things as working at a computer, watching television or sitting in traffic. But, Alter said, there are some simple steps that anyone can take to incorporate more activity into their day.

He suggests standing up and taking a quick, one-minute to three-minute breaks every half hour or so throughout the day. Standing burns twice as many calories as sitting. Some offices have taken this to heart and given workers standing desks to help boost their health and fitness levels while they work.

Alter also suggests setting small, achievable goals and building up stamina slowly. He tells patients to start by cutting their sitting time by 15 to 20 minutes per day. Over time, aim for 2 to 3 fewer sedentary hours per day.

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