A major Lancet study has found that “Office workers must exercise for an hour a day to counter death risk”. The study suggests that at least an hour’s exercise a day may compensate for the risks of a sedentary lifestyle.
Involving more than a million people, the study concluded with a “bad news, good news” analysis. The bad news is that sitting for long periods could increase the risk of premature death in adults by up to 60%. The good news is that doing at least an hour of moderately intense activity (such as cycling or brisk walking) each day may eliminate that risk.
The people in the study who were least active and sat for more than eight hours a day were 59% more likely to have died during the study follow-up than people who exercised most and sat for less than four hours a day. Sitting for longer than four hours a day increased the chance of death for everyone not in the highest activity category. However, people who did the most physical activity did not have an increased risk of death, regardless of how many hours a day they spent sitting.
This type of research cannot prove cause and effect but it certainly seems that daily physical activity brings long-term benefits. The current activity advice for adults is to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Increasing that to 60 minutes may be a good idea if you do have a “9-5 office lifestyle”. Lancet suggests, “Take a five minute break every hour, go to the next office, go upstairs to the coffee machine, go to the printer,” said Professor Ekelund. “Build physical activity in your everyday life.”