And at least some past research has suggested that the risk stays high, whether you exercise or not – which, frankly, is a depressing thought.
After all, many of us have little choice but to sit for hours each day – at work, at school – without the option to use a stand stool, yoga ball, or other device that might mitigate all that seated time. And if exercise doesn’t make a difference, then what’s a person to-do?
Happily, a new meta-analysis of the scientific literature suggests that moderate physical activity may indeed offset the risk of too much sitting.
The study, published this past summer in The Lancet, looked at the data from 13 previous studies on sitting time, physical activity, and all-cause mortality. More than a million participants were involved in those studies. And as the Harvard Heart Letter describes it,
Researchers found that in terms of death rates, sitting more than eight hours daily and exercising very little (about five minutes a day) was as risky as smoking or being obese. But 60 to 75 minutes of moderate-intensity activity—such as brisk walking or cycling—per day seemed to eliminate the increased risk of death in people who sat for more than eight hours a day.
Clearly, there’s value in moving more. After all, it’s what our bodies were designed to do. We aren’t born to sit still at a desk all day. When we don’t move, we actually deprive our bodies of something they need to function properly. Just as a car that’s not regularly driven will never run as well as one that gets regular use, so, too, the human body.
The research is clear. Exercise helps you sleep better. Think better. Feel better. Have more energy. Handle stress more successfully.
And you just might live longer.
Need even more reasons to motivate you to move? Check out this fantastic list from Greatist.