Sitting is not what we, human beings, were meant to do as a way of life. We evolved to be moving and mostly upright but changes in technology and lifestyle have meant that we are able to spend a vast majority of our daily hours sitting down, in fact many workplaces and jobs dictate that we sit down to do our work. Yet studies have shown that sitting, although it may seem innocuous, is a health negative and can increase your risk of early death effectively shortening your life as it boosts your chance of conditions like heart disease and diabetes. The question has been how much activity you have to engage in, and of what sort, to offset the negative effects of all this sitting.
The new study was based on data gathered from the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Since around 80 per cent of adults fail to get the recommended 2.5 hours per week of moderate activity, the aim was to see how much exercise and at what level might fight the problems caused by sitting. In the study 3,243 participants wore accelerometers that objectively measured the intensity of their activities.
They found that there is no benefit in short amounts of low intensity activities like standing. However, light intensity activities such as walking, light gardening, and cleaning did show a benefit. In fact two minutes of light activity each hour was associated with a 33 per cent reduced risk of dying.
Assuming 16 waking hours a day, two minutes of strolling each hour will burn 1670 kilojoules in a week which is not that far off the 2510 kilojoules burned by 2.5 hours of moderate exercise. It is also way better than the meagre 210 kilojoules burned by low intensity exercise for two minutes every hour.
It seems a little activity will do you a lot of good.