Like many people, you may have a job that involves sitting at a desk most of the day. Once your workday is done, you might hop straight into your car or public transport, barely taking a step in between. At home, you eat dinner (while sitting down). Then, you might relax on the couch to watch TV or surf the Internet.
When you count it all up, then that’s a lot of hours of sitting down – also called ‘being sedentary’.
WHY IS THIS A PROBLEM?
Sitting for long stretches of time could come at the expense of our longevity, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The researchers in this study combined the data from 47 different studies that investigated the health effects of being sedentary. These studies involved people from Australia, Japan and Europe. But, also people from Canada and the United States.
When analysing all these data, the researchers also took into account how much exercise people did. They found that people who sat for long periods of time had a significantly higher risk of developing chronic disease (heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes) and dying from all causes. These negative effects were even more obvious in people who only did a little or no exercise.
But, don’t despair. There’s hope. The results of a recent study suggest there is something you can do to reverse the damage.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Doing 60 minutes of exercise every day may eliminate the health risks of sitting for long periods. This activity can be a brisk walk or any other exercise.
In a study published in the Lancet, researchers analysed the data from 16 previous studies. More than 1 million healthy people took part in these studies from eight countries (Australia, Japan, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway and Spain).
These researchers also found a strong link between sitting for eight hours a day and an increased risk of early death. But, this increased risk was eliminated for people who exercised – such as brisk walking or cycling at 16 km per hour- for at least one hour a day.
This is great news if you sit for long periods of time every day.
In case you aren’t already doing exercise, then you could incorporate some into your day. For example, getting out for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning or cycling after work.
A total of one hour each day is ideal. But, if this really doesn’t fit into your busy schedule, then doing some exercise is always better than none.
What exercise do you do to stay healthy? Feel free to share in the comments below.