We know that spending a lot of time sitting is bad for our health, but how much exercise do we need to counteract the negative health effects of sitting all day?
Research shows that sweating for about 30 to 40 minutes per day is beneficial.
Research shows that up to 40 minutes of “moderate to vigorous physical activity” each day is about the right amount to balance out 10 hours of sitting still. However, any amount of exercise, or even just standing up, can help to some extent.
This is based on a meta-analysis study published in 2020 that analyzed nine previous studies involving a total of 44,370 people in four countries who wore some kind of fitness tracker.
The analysis found that as time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity decreased, the risk of death increased for people with sedentary lifestyles.
“For active people who do about 30 to 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise, the association between sedentary time and mortality risk is not significantly different from sedentary time.” The researchers explain in their paper. paper.
In other words, engaging in fairly intense activity, such as cycling, walking briskly, or gardening, can reduce your risk of early death to the risk you would have if you were sitting and doing nothing. This link can be found in the accumulated data of thousands of people.
While such meta-analyses always require sophisticated point-joining across individual studies with different volunteers, timescales, and conditions, the advantage of this particular study is that relatively little data from wearables rather than self-reported data It relies on objective data. Depends on the participants.
At that time, this research World Health Organization 2020 Global Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior, compiled by 40 scientists from six continents.of British Journal of Sports Medicine (BHSM) was also released. special edition Include both the study and the revised guidelines.
“As these guidelines emphasize, all physical activity is important and any amount of activity is better than none.” Said Emmanuel Stamatakis, researcher in physical activity and population health, University of Sydney, Australia.
“People can still protect their health and offset the harmful effects of physical inactivity.”
The study, based on fitness trackers, is in line with the 2020 WHO guidelines, which recommend 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity each week to counter sedentary behavior. Match.
Climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator, playing with children or pets, participating in yoga or dancing, doing housework, walking or cycling are all suggested ways for people to become more active. Researchers say it’s difficult to get 30 to 40 minutes right away and that you should start small.
Although it is difficult to make recommendations for all ages and body types, the 40-minute time frame for activity is consistent with previous research. As more data becomes available, we need to learn more about how to stay healthy even if we have to spend long hours at our desks.
“While the new guidelines reflect the best available science, there are still gaps in our knowledge.” Stamatakis said..
“For example, it’s not yet clear where exactly the criteria for ‘too much sitting’ lies. But this is a fast-paced area of research, and we expect to have an answer within a few years.”
A previous version of this article was published in November 2020.