An hour’s ‘brisk exercise’ offsets risk of early death

Workers who sit at a desk all day are being encouraged to get more active, as a survey reveals an hour long exercise session each day can offset the risks of an early death.

Sitting for at least eight hours a day in office could increase the risk of premature death by around 60%. But the risk could be battled with an hour long exercise session, unveils a study based on the survey of more than one million adults.

The research paper published in The Lancet has unveiled that sedentary lifestyles pose great threat to public health as smoking and resulting into more deaths than obesity.

According to the researchers, an hour of brisk walk or cycling a day was enough to fight the negatives of sitting job.

In the study, the participants were aged over 45. They were divided as per the levels of physical activity from up to five minutes a day to over an hour and the amount of time spent seated. The researchers also compared death rates over a period of up to 18 years in the participants belonging to Western Europe, Australia and the United States.

Mortality rate was 9.9% for those who sat at least eight hours and managed less than five minutes of activity. Those who sat at least eight hours but managed to carry out an hour long exercise regimen, death rates in them dropped to 6.2%.

Cancer and heart disease were the most likely reasons of death associated with inactivity. “This report is showing that inactivity kills. When we realized this about smoking we tackled it – we need to do the same about our office culture”, affirmed Steven Ward, executive editor of UK Active.

According to a report in BBC News by Caroline Parkinson, “An hour’s “brisk exercise” each day offsets the risks of early death linked to a desk-bound working life, scientists suggest. The analysis of data from more than a million people is part of a study of physical activity published in the Lancet to coincide with the Olympics.

Watching TV was found to be worse than sitting at a desk, probably because of associated habits like snacking.”
A report published in the US News said, “These results provide further evidence on the benefits of physical activity, particularly in societies where increasing numbers of people have to sit for long hours for work or commuting,” said lead researcher Ulf Ekelund. He is a professor in physical activity and health at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo, Norway.

“Unfortunately, only 25 percent of our sample exercised an hour a day or more.” The study also found that watching TV for three hours or more a day was linked with an increased risk of early death, regardless of physical activity — except among those who were the most physically active. However, even among those who exercised the most, the risk of premature death was significantly increased if they watched five hours of TV a day or more, the researchers added.

Workers need to do double the amount of exercise recommended by health officials in the UK, he said. The studies could not pinpoint why long periods of sitting were specifically risky, but the scientists involved said that movement appeared to assist the body’s metabolism, while sedentary periods could influence hormones such as leptin, which regulate energy balance.