When a recent Australian study linked time spent watching television to heart disease, headlines like “Too much TV may lead to shorter life” were common. But television watching probably isn’t to blame in itself—sitting is the more likely culprit, reports the September 2010 issue of the Harvard Heart Letter.

Researchers have long focused on the health benefits of physical activity. Studies over the past two years looking at the flip side have highlighted the cost of inactivity. In a study of 1,700 Canadian adults, for example, those who said they sat for most of the day were 54% more likely to have died during the 11-year study than those who sat less than half of the time. The researchers saw the same trend when they looked only at people who reported that they exercised regularly.

The message from this study and a host of others is that activity trumps sitting, notes the Harvard Heart Letter. That doesn’t mean you have to spend several hours a day exercising. But the more standing and walking you do, the better. To help you stand more, Heart Letter editor P.J. Skerrett describes how he works at a standing desk, and offers suggestions for building or buying one for your home or office.

Read the full-length article: “Stand up for your heart”