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Do you sit too much? Here’s how much exercising you need to nullify the harm of sitting

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Posted May 1, 2019

Most of us nowadays have jobs that do not promote movement. In fact, more and more people spend their days sitting and not doing anything physical at all. We are well aware that this sort of behaviour is extremely harmful, but does working out after a prolonged period of sitting still help? Scientists the University of Sydney say yes.

Sitting for more than 6 hours per day is extremely harmful for your heart – it is believed to be the new smoking. Image credit: Christopher Michel via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

A lot of people can be classified as ‘high sitters’ – people who sit over six hours per day. This sort of behaviour is often described as ‘the new smoking’ and is believed to be extremely damaging to one’s cardiovascular system. However, scientists are not exactly sure what is causing the damage – actual sitting or simply the lack of physical exercise. That is why they conducted this study, trying to determine whether the damage caused by sitting could be offset by moderate to vigorous exercise routines.

Researchers examined the associations of sitting and physical activity with premature death and cardiovascular disease mortality. They created statistical models of nearly 150,000 study participants aged 45 years and over and followed up over almost nine years. Scientists found that ‘high sitters’ could pretty much nullify harms caused by their bad habits if they partook in moderate to vigorous exercise routines. This is great news, because now ‘high sitters’ face more than a 100 % higher risk of cardiovascular death compared to those who sit less than four hours per day and did at least one hour physical activity per day.

Scientists found that exercising can reduce associations between sitting and both cardiovascular and overall mortality risk. Of course, it would be ideal if people spent less time sitting and more exercising, but everyone understands that it’s not really viable, given our jobs and lifestyles. However, scientists provide better recommendations – at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity per week could provide significant health benefits. Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis, lead author of the study, said: “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”.

How can you find time for exercising? There is always time for that! Walk to your job instead of taking a car. Ride bicycle to the store and get a dog – dogs are great at promoting a healthier lifestyle. If there is a will, there is a way – even if you work for 8 hours per day you can find moments to get up and move a little.

 

Source: University of Sydney

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