Exercising for an hour a day may help compensate for "office lifestyles"

A major multi-national study has suggested that exercising for an hour a day may help to compensate the risks office workers encounter from a sedentary lifestyle.1

Researchers from universities in Norway, the UK and the US examined data involving over a million people, and added further evidence to the widely-recognised idea that sitting for long periods can lead to an earlier death. However, they were also able to find evidence that an hour's moderate exercise a day can help to eliminate that risk.

The research found that the people who were least active and sat for over eight hours a day were 59% more likely to have died between the study and the follow-up than those who exercised more often and sat for four hours or under a day. However, the people who did the most exercise in the study did not have any increased risk of death, regardless of how long they were sedentary for each day.

This study is useful because it links time spent sitting and time being physically active, and shows how both are linked to each other when discussing our mortality. Another strength is the sheer size of the research, with 16 different studies and one million people included. However, the study had a few limitations, such as concentrating on generally "healthy" adults, and the data used also came from self-assessment from participants, which may not always be accurate.

Perhaps the most interesting news to come from this study was that the levels of activity required to reduce the risks of a sedentary lifestyle are higher than what is usually recommended. This suggests that having a desk job means we need to find more time to exercise than first thought.

Reference

1 Ekelund U, Steene-Johannessen J, Brown WJ, et al. Does physical activity attenuate, or even eliminate, the detrimental association of sitting time with mortality? A harmonised meta-analysis of data from more than 1 million men and women. The Lancet. Published online July 27 2016

Headlines

Office workers must exercise for an hour a day to counter death risk. The Daily Telegraph. July 28 2016

Hour's activity 'offsets sedentary day'. BBC News, July 27 2016

One hour of activity needed to offset harmful effects of sitting at a desk. The Guardian, July 27 2016

A desk job could make you 60% more likely to die earlier: Hour's exercise every day is needed to help beat deadly effects of working 9 to 5. Daily Mail, July 28 2016