Sitting All Day? Just 11 Minutes of Walking Is Enough to Undo the Damage
If you think all that sitting for hours during working from home is killing you (slowly) here is some good news. According to a new study it only takes 11 minutes of walking to undo the effects of sitting for long stints. This is a much shorter amount of activity than previous thought. A 2016 study led us to believe we had to crush that bootcamp for an hour or more to get the benefits. For anyone who "hates to exercise," a simple walk in the park is enough to help you live a long healthy life for years to come!
The relationship between a sedentary lifestyle and mortality did show up in the data from a study of over 44,000 people followed for 14 years, but the worst outcomes were among those who sat the longest, like 8.5 hours, and moved the least. What was new and remarkable about the research is that there wasn't that big a difference between those who participated in the longest, most rigorous physical activity and those who did a moderate amount.
To quote from the study: "Among those in the highest third of [moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity] MVPA, the risk of death was not statistically different from ... those in the middle." So while you have to move to be healthy, you may not need to go crazy or train for a marathon, or do anything more than a moderate walk for at least 11 minutes a day, which was enough to lessen the ill effects of sitting for hours. The new study did confirm that the highest death rates occur among the most sedentary, but if people went for a walk, they cut their risk of dying young way down, even if they did sit for long periods.
For anyone who loves to read studies, here is a slightly edited quote: "Across cohorts, the average time spent sedentary ranged from 8.5 hours a day to 10.5 hours a day and 8 min a day to 35 min a day for [activity]. Compared with the referent group (highest physical activity and lowest sedentary time), the risk of death increased with lower levels of [activity] and greater amounts of sedentary time. Among those in the highest third of [activity], the risk of death was not statistically different from... those in the middle... and highest ... thirds of sedentary time. Those in the lowest third of [activity] had a greater risk of death in all combinations with sedentary time. So... if you sit, get moving.
Bottom line: If you sit for hours, take a break get up and go for a walk. Or get a dog! Maybe all those pound puppies adopted during the pandemic that now need to be walked morning noon and night are saving us, as a way of repaying us for saving them! Been sitting reading this? Grab that leash and head out the door.