Twenty-two minutes of physical activity a day can balance sitting and reduce mortality risk.
A study of more than 12,000 people shows that more movement significantly lowers the risk.
According to research, 5 minutes of activity every half hour is effective against the risks of sedentarism.
If you play sports regularly, you are familiar with the restlessness that comes over you when job forces you to sit for long hours. After a certain number of hours you have only one thought: get up and walk, or possibly run.
Yet there are so many people for whom sitting is not only a condition to which they are forced but also the only mode by which their lives are conducted. Unfortunately, the consequences are severe, in proportion to how long a life in which there is little or no movement goes on.
Twenty-two minutes of physical activity a day could be enough to offset the increased risk of death associated with a very sedentary lifestyle.
This is supported by new research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. While we are not particularly impressed by such precise numbers, the study has the merit of having evaluated a considerable amount of data derived from analysis of the profiles of nearly 12,000 people aged 50 and older from Norway, Sweden and the United States over the course of 16 years. The group was divided almost equally between men and women.
Scientists found that those who sat for 12 hours or more a day had a 38 percent higher risk of death than those who sat for 8 hours a day.
However, this risk rate decreased as physical activity, even moderate-intense, increased. Just 10 minutes a day in fact reduced the risk of death by 35 percent, and 22 minutes or more eliminated it completely, in short realigning the odds of death to statistical values observable in a healthy population.
Let’s get physical
Small amounts of moderate-intense physical activity could, in short, be an effective strategy for reducing the risk of mortality associated with long periods of sedentary activity, according to the researchers.
However, it is correct to specify that the study was observational, and therefore did not establish a precise cause and effect relationship. The factors analyzed were limited and did not include nutrition, mobility problems, or general health. The activity monitoring tools used by the participants were also not advanced enough to detect certain types of activities such as cycling, resistance exercise and gardening.
Move a little bit, at least
Technology helps us in so many areas but not (at least not always) in getting us moving more. So many jobs that once required a minimum of movement only now disappeared or are done by machines while most of the new occupations can be done while sitting, so much so that sedentary jobs in the U.S. have increased by 83 percent since 1950. Which implies that, for example, adults in the United States spend an average of 9.5 hours a day sitting.
The negative side effects of a sedentary lifestyle also have a name, namely “sitting disease,” which can have very serious consequences such as:
– Cardiovascular disease
– High blood pressure
– High cholesterol
– Type 2 Diabetes
Snack movement therapy
We had already told you about snack workout, and the advice contained in a 2023 study conducted by researchers from Columbia University indicates the minimum amount of movement as five minutes of walking for every 30 minutes of sedentary activity.
This short walk, performed on a treadmill by study participants, significantly lowered both blood glucose and blood pressure, key indicators of cardiometabolic health. Such “snacks” also reduced blood sugar spikes caused by large meals by 58 percent, compared with the blood sugar levels of those who sat all day without exercise.
The duration of the walk is not random but derived from the exclusion of other durations that provided less relevant values for decreasing blood pressure and blood sugar: in fact, the scientists tried combinations of one minute of walking for every 30 or 60 minutes of inactivity, which, however, only showed benefits with respect to blood pressure alone (not bad anyway!)
Only five minutes?
If that seems small to you, think that on an 8-hour workday, 16 5-minute walking breaks every 30 translates into 1 hour and 20 minutes of exercise. Many more than the 22 indicated by the most recent research.
To conclude: already the myth of 10,000 steps per day has been outdated, while the one indicating a minimum daily steps per day below which one should never fall is still valid: in fact, it is believed that those who walk fewer than 5,000 steps per day have a sedentary lifestyle.
So, keep an eye on your smartwatch and never go below this threshold!