An international analysis of 16 studies involving over 1 million people shows that only 1 hour of moderate physical activity can eliminate the health risks associated with sedentary behavior. The study finds that only around 25 percent of participants did this amount of exercise per day.
Getting out for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning, cycling to work, or even walking the dog for an hour can eliminate the health risks of prolonged sitting in the office, in a car and before a TV.
Health risks that are linked to physical inactivity include an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
“Our message is a positive one: it is possible to reduce – or even eliminate – these risks if we are active enough, even without having to take up sports or go to the gym, ” said Prof. Ulf Ekelund, of the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, Norway, and the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Results from the study show that people who sat for prolonged periods and were mostly inactive were between 28-59 percent more likely to die early, compared with those in the most active group, which is a similar risk to that associated with smoking and obesity.
TV watching was the worst sedentary behavior catalogued in the study. Those who watched TV for 3 hours per day was associated with an increased risk of death in all activity groups, except among the most active.