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Just One Hour of Exercise a Day Could Offset the Risks of Modern Life

1 August 2016 at 10:53 am
Wendy Williams
Working in an office is as bad for you as smoking but just one hour of exercise a day could help combat the fatal risks of modern life, according to new research.

Wendy Williams | 1 August 2016 at 10:53 am


Just One Hour of Exercise a Day Could Offset the Risks of Modern Life
1 August 2016 at 10:53 am

Working in an office is as bad for you as smoking but just one hour of exercise a day could help combat the fatal risks of modern life, according to new research.

Woman walking

A study of more than one million adults from the USA, Western Europe and Australia, published in leading medical journal The Lancet, revealed that sitting at a desk for eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 per cent.

Researches claim that sedentary lifestyles are now posing as great a threat to public health as smoking and causing more deaths than obesity with physical inactivity linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

However, doing at least one hour of physical activity per day, such as brisk walking or cycling, could eliminate the increased risk of death.

Lead author Professor Ulf Ekelund, from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences and the University of Cambridge said the findings were “positive”.

“There has been a lot of concern about the health risks associated with today’s more sedentary lifestyles,” Ekelund said.

“Our message is a positive one: it is possible to reduce or even eliminate these risks if we are active enough, even without having to take up sports or go to the gym.”

The study, which forms part of a new four-paper series, calls on people spending long periods of time at their desk to change their routine and take a five minute break every hour as well as exercise at lunchtimes and evenings.

The authors of the series warn there has been too little progress in tackling the global pandemic of physical inactivity since a previous study was launched ahead of the 2012 Olympics, with one-quarter of adults worldwide still failing to meet current recommendations on physical activity.

WHO guidelines recommend that adults should do at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week much lower than the 60 to 75 minutes per day identified in this analysis.

Researchers for this latest study classified the individuals, of an average age of 45, into four equally sized groups according to how active they were less than five minutes a day for the least active, and up to 60 to 75 minutes a day for the most active.

They found the typical modern lifestyle of spending a day in front of a computer, followed by an evening in front of the television was proving fatal with watching TV for more than three hours per day associated with an increased risk of death.

Ekelund stressed the importance of fitting exercise into the day.

“For many people who commute to work and have office-based jobs, there is no way to escape sitting for prolonged periods of time,” he said.

“For these people in particular, we cannot stress enough the importance of getting exercise, whether it’s getting out for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning or cycling to work.

“An hour of physical activity per day is the ideal, but if this is unmanageable, then at least doing some exercise each day can help reduce the risk.”

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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