Health - Walk

People in developed countries spend an average of nine to ten hours a day sitting. Whether it’s spending time in front of a computer, stuck in traffic, or unwinding in front of the TV, our lives have become increasingly sedentary.

This is concerning because prolonged time spent sitting is linked to a number of health issues including obesity, heart disease, and certain types of cancers. These health issues can contribute to earlier death.

But a new study suggests that for people over 50, getting just 22 minutes of exercise a day can lower the increased risk of premature death from a highly sedentary lifestyle.

A study involving 12,000 people aged 50 or older from Norway, Sweden, and the US found that sedentary individuals had the highest risk of death (38% higher than those sedentary for eight hours). However, this risk was only observed in those who did less than 22 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. Higher daily duration of physical activity was consistently associated with lower risk of death, regardless of total sedentary time. An additional ten minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity could lower mortality risk by up to 15% for those less than 10.5 hours a day.

The study had limitations, including inability to assess the impact of changes in physical activity or sedentary time on death risk, limited applicability to younger age groups, and potential cultural and lifestyle differences. Despite these, the findings align with existing evidence.

Physical activity can offset health risks associated with high sedentary time, with even short bursts of exercise having positive effects. Wearable devices have shown that short bursts of high-intensity everyday activities can lower mortality, heart disease, and cancer risk, including incidental exercise.

A recent study using wearable devices found that moderate to vigorous activity lasting three to five minutes provides similar benefits to longer bouts in reducing stroke and heart attack risk. Short bursts of activity, such as walking, taking the stairs, or at-home workouts, can significantly improve health and longevity, suggesting that every minute counts.