Cycling, jogging, walking – as long as a person finds a way to move, he may undo the harmful effects of sitting all day.
Health experts describe sitting as the new smoking. Staying seated for extended periods will negatively affect health and make people more vulnerable to diseases.
Unfortunately, many jobs require people to sit still. Luckily, these workers may have a way out of their unhealthy predicament.
Researchers sought to determine whether or not physical exercise might reduce the harmful effects of prolonged sitting. A new study strongly suggests that working out does bring health benefits to people who need to stay seated.
Earlier research has drawn links between the amount of time spent in a seated position and a higher chance of death in inactive adults. The study – led by researchers from the University of Sydney – showed that increasing physical activity might break that chain of association.
A person might reduce the health risks of prolonged sitting by increasing his levels of physical activity. He might further improve that by reducing the amount of time he spends sitting. (Related: Mental AND physical exercise found to be beneficial for neurodegenerative disease sufferers, even in late stages of illness.)
Sydney researcher and lead author Emmanuel Stamatakis explained that merely spending less time seated will not be enough to improve a person's health. He encouraged more physical activity among people who stay seated for various reasons.
His team studied 149,077 Australian men and women aged 45 years and older. They grouped the participants between "high sitters" and "low sitters."
High sitters spend more than six hours in seated positions. Conversely, low sitters didn't sit for long periods.
Stamatakis' team found that Australian high sitters experienced significant improvements in their health and risk of death once they started becoming more physically active.
Meanwhile, low sitters didn't get much in the way of health boosts by increasing their levels of physical activity. But if they reduced the amount of time they spent seated by standing up, they got more health benefits.
“A possible explanation for this is that among the most sedentary participants, standing may not be sufficient for reducing health risks,” explained Stamatakis. “Instead, substituting sitting for brisk walking may be a better option that is feasible by a majority of adults.”
The Sydney study showed that strenuous physical activity made the highest gains against the harmful effects of prolonged sitting. Highly active participants enjoyed longer lives and better general health.
Stamatakis and his colleagues acknowledged that not every adult will have time, energy, or health for athletic sports and other vigorous physical activity.
Thus, they recommended high sitters to fit as much physical activity as they can into their routines. Further, physical exercise must be as intense as possible.
National Cancer Institute (NCI) researcher Charles E. Matthews didn't participate in the experiment, but he called its results exciting. He said that the Sydney researchers showed that there were many ways to reduce the chances of death caused by prolonged sitting and insufficient physical activity.
“Given that sedentary behaviors appear to be vastly outcompeting more healthy physical activity behaviors during our discretionary time, it is more important than ever to attend to our daily physical activity and sitting time to try to optimize both behaviors for better health,” Matthews said.
You can read more about the health benefits of physical exercise at Slender.news – or get up and get moving!