Sitting is the New Smoking?

It is no secret that leading sedentary lifestyle can have a dramatic negative impact on overall health. The World Health Organization reports that too much time spent sitting can lead to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and is a factor in more than 3 million deaths each year. But let’s face it, it is easy to spend more time sitting than we should. An 8 hour work day, potentially coupled with a commute, is typical for a full-time professional. Of course, you must also consider those lazy evenings spent in front of the television, and the modern conveniences that allow us to accomplish tasks online that would have previously gotten us moving. Though this is lifestyle is increasingly common, experts agree that it is a recipe for health issues later in life.

There is a silver lining! New research published in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal, suggests that there is an opportunity to use physical activity to correct the damage caused by a sedentary lifestyle. In fact, researchers offer up a simple formula to help us figure out how much exercise we need: one hour of moderate activity for every eight hours spent sitting. The data indicates that those who participate in more physical activity have better health outcomes than even those who sit less throughout the day but do not exercise as much.

For those among us for whom a sedentary lifestyle is unavoidable, this is great news. If you still doubt that you will be able to drag yourself to the gym for an hour after work, there is even more good news: Researchers believe that the activity will be just as effective if you spread it out throughout your day. In an article for the Washington Post, researcher Ulf Ekelund, of the Norwegian School of Sports Medicine, is quoted saying, “[All available evidence suggests that the one hour can be done in shorter intervals. My personal opinion is that every single minute of activity counts.”

Find ways to make movement a part of your day, so that your visits to the gym do not seem so daunting. Finish off your lunch break with a brisk fifteen minute walk, complete a short body-weight circuit during commercial breaks, or get the whole office moving with this fun conference room workout! Also, notice that researchers are promoting the benefits of moderate exercise for your health, so no need to choose an hour of vigorous exercise if you do not like it, or if you are just getting in to regular exercise. With optimal health in mind, put the focus on choosing workouts that you enjoy, planning little ways to move throughout the day, and staying consistent.