Replacing sedentary time with short bouts of physical activity might help you in the long run
According to an American Journal of Epidemiology study, scientists analyzed data from almost 8,000 adults in the US aged 45 or older and concluded that even though short spells of movement help, overall time spent seated must be cut.
Each of the participants had to wear an activity tracker for between four and seven days between 2009 and 2013. The participants were sedentary for an average of 694 minutes, or 11.5 hours, during their waking hours, and by the end of the study the team found that replacing sitting with moving reduced the risk of death.
While serious exercise is definitely the most recommended, the study also suggests short periods of movement brings benefits, like walking to a colleagues’ desk instead of talking on the phone, or having walking meetings. These periods can be as short as a minute in duration. Also, “When you take a movement break it doesn’t matter what you do, you can take a nice stroll down the hall,” as per Dr Keith Diaz, an expert in behavioral medicine at Columbia University and co-author of the study.
The same team published another study last year showing that by moving very 30 minutes we can reduce our chances of premature death, but now researchers say overall time spent seated must be seriously lowered in order to lower the risk. Basically, there are no benefits to be had if the total amount of sitting in a day remained the same but was broken up into short bouts.
“Sitting is harmful and is going to increase your risk [of death], no matter how you sit, whether it is in short bouts or long bouts,” according to Dr Diaz. But, that does not necessarily contradict the previous research, as that study had not considered how much low-intensity activity people did during the day. “The reason that people who took a break every 30 minutes had a lower risk of death is because they simply had more opportunity to move,” he added.