Are you sitting down? Maybe you shouldn’t.
No one is exactly sure why but a growing body of evidence suggests excessive sitting increases the risk of early death.
The good news is researchers at The University of Sydney have a simple solution: exercise.
Physical activity is important for everyone but the team’s work shows extra benefits for so called “high sitters” – people with low mobility or those such as office workers whose job requires long hours at a desk.
“In our study, sitting time was associated consistently with both overall premature mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality in the least physically active groups,” says lead researcher Emmanuel Stamatakis.
“For example, people who were physically inactive and sat for more than eight hours per day had 107 per cent higher risk for cardiovascular death compared to those who did at least one hour of physical activity per day and sat less than four hours.”
Scientists are uncertain whether there is something about sitting itself that damages our health, or whether it just happens to be associated with a general lack of movement.
Either way, Professor Stamatakis says replacing some sitting with physical activity reduces the chances of premature death.
And while it’s not enough just to stand for a while, it doesn’t take all that much to make a difference – a little over 20 to 40 minutes of exercise per day.
“Any movement is good for health but physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity – that is activities that get people out of breath– is the most potent and most time-efficient,” Professor Stamatakis says.
(The information in this article should not be considered medical advice. Please see your medical professional for information tailored to your personal circumstances.)
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