Having a desk job doesn’t have to slowly kill you. Especially with this fast trick. (Photo: Getty Images)
It’s no secret that being sedentary for long periods of time is unhealthy. In fact, a study released earlier this year concluded that the amount of hours someone sits in a day — regardless of regular exercise — is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even death.
And now, new research published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN) states that walking for just two minutes out of each waking hour may counteract these health risks.
Study experts examined the data of 3,243 adults who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by wearing accelerometers that tracked their levels of physical activity. The scientists focused on whether longer durations of low intensity activities (like standing, note taking or making a bed) and light intensity activities (such as casual walking, light gardening or cleaning) can extend the life span of people who are sedentary (a.k.a. sitting or lying down) for more than half of their waking hours.
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Keep in mind: While the ideal replacement for sitting is increasing the amount of moderate or vigorous intensity activities — such as jogging, biking, lifting weights or anything that falls under the “working out” category — these scientists were hoping to find the next best solution. And that’s because nearly 80 percent of Americans do not meet the recommended amount of exercise, which is 2.5 hours of a moderate or vigorous activity per week.
Here’s what they discovered — swapping just two minutes of sitting each hour for two minutes of a light intensity activity each hour can result in a 33 percent lower risk of dying.
Srinivasan Beddhu, MD, professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine explains to Yahoo Health that even short walks can have a positive impact on wellbeing. “Assuming someone is awake for 16 hours a day, two minutes each hour will add up to 3.7 hours per week of light intensity activity instead of being sedentary,” he says. “As shown in the study, a 2.5 MET (Metabolic Equivalent of Task) activity, such as a casual walk, for one to five minutes per hour could result in additional energy expenditure of 200 to 1000 kcal per week. It was fascinating to see the results because the current national focus is on moderate or vigorous activity. To see that light activity had an association with lower mortality is intriguing.”
For optimum benefits, Beddhu strongly advises less time in the sitting or horizontal positions. “We are not advocating for just a total of two minutes per hour of light activity,” he adds. “It should be noted that it is two minutes per hour more of light activity. If a person is already doing 10 minutes per hour of light activity, going to 12 minutes may decrease their mortality risk.”