A Lancet study comprising of more than 1 million people has found that the health risks associated with sitting for long periods of the day can be reduced or even eliminated by regular physical activity.
The research, using the data of people from the USA, Western Europe and Australia was carried out in response to rising concerns about the health risks associated with society’s shift towards a more sedentary lifestyle. With more and more of the population employed in office based jobs, there’s a greater number of people that cannot escape sitting at their desks for prolonged periods of time.
Physical inactivity is linked to higher risks of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers and is associated with more than 5 million deaths per year.
The good news is that the increased risk of death associated with sitting for 8 hours a day can be reduced or even eliminated for those that did a minimum of 1 hour physical activity (such as brisk walking or cycling) per day.
The findings show that people who sat for 8 hours per day but who are physically active had a much lower risk of death compared to those people who sat for less hours per day, but who were not physically active. The greatest risk to health is for people that sit for long periods of time and inactive.
60-75 minutes of moderate activity is ideal to combat the effects of sitting for long periods of time, but if this is not possible, then at least doing some exercise each day can help reduce the risk.
This study therefore underlines the fundamental importance of physical activity to health, no matter how many hours an individual spent sitting.
The World Health Organisation recommend that adults do 150 minutes of physical activity per week, which is much lower then the 60-75 minutes identified in the study. Rather alarmingly, the need for progress has been highlighted by the study however, as it reveals that only 25% of those people analysed were active for an hour or more each day.
The Lancet Physical Activity Series 2012 http://www.thelancet.com/series/physical-activity
Read more about the impact to health from a sedentary lifestyle in my earlier blog:
“HOW SITTING IS WORSE FOR YOUR HEALTH THAN SMOKING”