One Hour of Activity Offsets Eight Hours of Sitting
By now you’ve probably heard about the dangers of uninterrupted sitting. Sitting is the new smoking danger and sitting too long can kill you have been recently featured in news headlines after newer studies found that physical inactivity is literally killing us, resulting in 5.3 million premature deaths worldwide. That statistic means sitting causes as many premature deaths as smoking (worldwide) and twice as many deaths as currently associated with obesity.
Too many sedentary hours in a day is a killer.
A recent Lancet journal report looked at a combination of research trials involving one million individuals. The meta-analysis concluded that you don’t have to necessarily take up sports or join a gym in order to counteract the health implications of sitting for many (eight plus) hours a day. Instead, you can offset the health risks associated with many hours of sitting by engaging in one hour of moderate exercise daily. That translates to a sixty-minute brisk walk, or biking for thirty minutes to and from work. If committing to sixty minutes daily sounds daunting, then even shorter bouts of 25-30 minutes of moderate activity daily will help to limit the risks associated with the long periods of sitting. This is, however, a case of “more is better” with regards to accumulating exercise time.
Considering that there are twenty-four hours in a day, and you sit for one third of those hours and sleep for one third of those hours, committing to one hour of moderate exercise daily is a reasonable goal. You can divide the hour into a 20-minute jog in the morning, a brisk 15-minute walk at lunchtime and a 30-minute class after work hours. What’s most important is to begin to prioritize fitness as a daily habit, especially if you sit in a chair for most of your on-the-job hours.
In the recent meta-analysis, the researchers found that the premature mortality associated with prolonged sitting was due to an increased risk of developing heart disease and cancers including breast, colon and colorectal. The lead researcher postulated that prolonged sitting appears to be associated with decreased production of certain hormones, and those lower levels may raise the risk of developing these diseases. The researchers also recommended short bursts of activity to break up many hours of sitting. Remember that even briefly standing periodically will help to also lower blood sugar levels. Just standing up though, does not counterbalance the many health risks associated with sitting for too many hours.
Engaging in playtime and sports time can certainly help you to accumulate your sixty minutes of moderate activity, so get out with your kids and have running races, play football, go swimming or have “walk races.” Just get moving!!