A recent study, Physical Activity 2016, published in The Lancet analysed data taken from over a thousand people, and the results are revealing. Scientists concluded that 1 hour’s ‘brisk exercise’ per day offsets the risks of early death that are linked to a sedentary, desk-bound working life.
The study looked at people with different levels of physical activity in their lifestyles – from the least active (<5 minutes exercise per day) to those who were active for 1 to 1 ½ hours a day, to the most active, to obtain valuable data about the impact of activity and inactivity. Participants were observed for between 2 and 14 years and their death rates recorded.
The results were clear: those who spent 8 hours a day sitting down but were physically active carried a lower risk of premature death than those who sat down for fewer hours per day but were not active.
Being inactive is known to increase the risk of serious health issues including heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. Apparently, watching TV is even worse than sitting at a desk, probably because of accompanying bad habits such as snacking or because TV viewing late in the evening may affect the metabolism. A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to 5.3 million deaths per year worldwide.
Professor Ulf Ekelund of the University of Cambridge and the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, who led the study, said: ‘For many people who […] have office based jobs, there is no way to escape sitting for prolonged periods of time. […] We cannot stress enough the importance of getting exercise, whether it’s getting out for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning or cycling to work. […] An hour of physical activity per day is ideal, but if this is unmanageable, then at least doing some exercise each day can help reduce the risk.”
Dr Mike Loosemore from the English Institute of Sport added: ‘For the vast majority of people while the best way to stay healthy would be to do an hour of moderate activity a day, realistically the best place to start is reducing your sedentary behaviour at work by sitting less and try to increase whatever physical activity you are doing.’
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