Hour of daily exercise needed for office workers to counter risk of early death

Research has indicated that an hour of exercise each day is needed by office workers, to undo the harm caused by a sedentary day and reduce the risk of premature death.
The research team asked the authors of 13 existing studies to reanalyse their data, which covered statistics on more than one million people.
These people were then classed into groups, based on their activity levels, from the most inactive (less than five minutes of exercise a day) to the most active (more than an hour of exercise a day).
During the follow-up period, which was between two and 14 years, the researchers monitored how many people died. They found the risk of premature death was highest in the most inactive group, with a mortality rate of 9.9 per cent for those failing to get five minutes or more of exercise each day.
However, for those people who also sat for at least eight hours a day, yet exercised for at least an hour, the mortality rate was noticeably lower, at 6.2 per cent.
The study was led by Professor Ulf Ekelund, of the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences and the University of Cambridge, who said: “For many people who commute to work and have office-based jobs, there is no way to escape sitting for prolonged periods of time.
“For these people in particular, we cannot stress enough the importance of getting exercise, whether it’s getting out for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning or cycling to work.
“An hour of physical activity per day is the ideal [amount], but if this is unmanageable, then at least doing some exercise each day can help reduce the risk.”
This recommendation is significantly more than the current guidelines from the NHS, who recommend to take part in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
As well as urging people to take five minute breaks every hour, Ekelund said that the benefits could be achieved just from walking slightly faster than three miles per hour each day.
“You don’t need to do sport, you don’t need to go to the gym, it’s okay doing some brisk walking, maybe in the morning, during your lunchtime, after dinner in the evening. You can split it up over the day but you need to do at least one hour,” he said.
The typical modern lifestyle sees many people sit at a desk for the majority of their time during the day, and then sitting in front of the television at home throughout the evening. This can actually be worse than sitting in an office because it is often accompanied by the mindless eating of snacks.
The risk of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and heart disease increases if you are inactive, as does the likelihood of you becoming obese. Inactivity has been linked to 5.3 million deaths worldwide each year. Smoking, on the other hand, is linked to 5.1 million deaths worldwide.
The research was published in The Lancet.

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