For many office workers, a typical day goes something like this: You rise early, sit in a car or public transport during your commute to work, sit at your desk for the duration of the day, then return home to sit on the couch. Leading a sedentary lifestyle might not seem like cause for alarm, but research suggests otherwise.
A 2014 study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine suggests women are particularly at risk of health issues from sitting all day. Researchers found that the more time women spend seated, the greater their odds were of dying early. "Sedentary behavior is associated with an increased risk of the development of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease," adds Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Thankfully, a new study suggests there is a solution. The remedy is at least one hour of movement, which does not necessarily include vigorous exercise. Researchers scanned data from 16 previous studies throughout the U.S, Australia, and Western Europe, and found that people who sit less and incorporate more activity in their daily routine reduce their chance of earlier mortality from 9.9% to 6.8%, Cooking Light reports. That might not sound dramatic, but bumping your recommended daily exercise from 30 minutes to one hour could add years to your life.
"You don’t need to do sport, you don’t need to go to the gym. It’s OK doing some brisk walking, maybe in the morning, during lunchtime, after dinner in the evening," lead author Professor Ulf Ekelund told The Guardian. "You can split it up over the day, but you need to do at least one hour."
The takeaway? Challenge yourself to stand and move as much as possible during the day, whether that be via a walking meeting, going for a jog before work, or using a standing desk. Bumping your recommended daily exercise from 30 minutes to one hour could make all the difference; your older self will thank you.