Know how to counter ill effects of long-time sitting

Know how to counter ill effects of long-time sitting
Highlights

If you wish to live longer, reduce your sitting time and replace it with just 30 minutes of physical activity

If you wish to live longer, reduce your sitting time and replace it with just 30 minutes of physical activity.

These are the findings of a recent study which appear in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The results highlight the importance of movement -- regardless of its intensity or amount of time spent moving -- for better health.

"Our findings underscore an important public health message that physical activity of any intensity provides health benefits," said lead author Keith Diaz of Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

About one in four adults spends more than eight hours a day sitting, according to a recent study.

In a previous paper, Diaz and his team discovered that adults who sat for long stretches at a time -- an hour or more without interruption -- had a greater risk of early death than those who were sedentary for the same total amount of time but got up and moved around more often.

They also found that people who sat for less than 30 minutes at a time had the lowest risk of early death, suggesting that taking movement breaks every half-hour could lower your risk of death.

But just how intense, and for how long, does the physical activity need to be to counter the ill effects of sitting?

The study found that replacing just 30 minutes of sitting with low-intensity physical activity would lower the risk of early death by 17 per cent, a statistically significant decrease. Swapping the same amount of sitting for moderate to vigorous activity would be twice as effective, cutting the risk of early death by 35 per cent. The researchers also found that short bursts of activity -- of just a minute or two -- provided a health benefit.

"If you have a job or lifestyle that involves a lot of sitting, you can lower your risk of early death by moving more often, for as long as you want and as your ability allows -- whether that means taking an hour-long high-intensity spin class or choosing lower-intensity activities, like walking," Diaz said.

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