Relaxing at home can have deadly consequences for women who sit for more than six hours a day during their leisure time, regardless of how much they exercise, it was revealed Thursday.

A new study from American Cancer Society researchers found that women in particular who sat for longer than six hours a day during their leisure time — engaged in activities such as watching television, surfing the Internet and reading — had higher death rates.

And it did not matter how much daily exercise they did, the risk remained virtually unchanged.Several studies have already shown there is a link between long sitting times and obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease risk factors, and unhealthy diets.

But the latest study — which surveyed 123,216 people for 13 years — found a link between the amount of time people spent sitting and their death rates.It found that the more leisure time people spent sitting, the higher the risk of death, particularly for women.

Women who said they sat for more than six hours a day during their leisure hours were found to be 37 percent more likely to die during the period of the study, than those who sat for less than three hours a day.Men who sat for more than six hours were 18 percent more likely to die than those who sat for less than three.

The results remained virtually unchanged when physical activity was factored in.However, lack of exercise combined with long sitting times was a killer combination.

Women who sat more and were less physically active were 94 percent more likely to die compared with those who sat the least and were the most active. For men the figure was 48 percent.

Alpa Patel, who led the team of researchers, said long sitting times were shown to have important metabolic consequences influencing things such as cholesterol and resting blood pressure, which were biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.

The study concluded that public health messages needed to encourage people to reduce the time they spent sitting as well as promoting them to exercise.

"Because a sizable fraction of the population spends much of their time sitting, it is beneficial to encourage sedentary individuals to stand up and walk around as well as to reach optimal levels of physical activity," Patel said.