Get up and move to improve health, say researchers
Another study adds to the growing body of evidence that too much sedentary time is bad for your health, with new US researchers finding that those who move more benefit from a reduced mortality risk.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Aging, among others, led the study on 3,029 participants aged 50 to 79, who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
The survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was designed to assess the health of both children and adults across the United States.
As part of the NHANES study, the participants wore highly sensitive accelerometers, more accurate than those used in previous studies, to track their activity over a seven day period. This data was collected by the CDC, which then also monitored the participants mortality rates over the next eight years.
After looking at the data and taking into account mortality-influencing factors such as chronic illness, smoking status, age and gender, the results showed that replacing even just a few minutes of sedentary time with some type of activity helped reduce mortality risk, with the same results seen in those who already regularly exercised.
The team also found that during the study, the least active participants were five times more likely to die than the most active, and three times more likely to die than participants in the middle range for activity.
For those struggling to be more active, the good news is the activity doesn’t even have to work up a sweat.
“The folks who were walking around, washing the dishes, sweeping the floor tended to live longer than the people who were sitting at a desk,” said Ezra Fishman, lead author of the study.
“Activity doesn’t have to be especially vigorous to be beneficial. That’s the public health message.”
The team also found that adding as little as 10 minutes per day of light activity could be enough to make a difference in mortality rates, and increasing active time to 30 minutes a day of light or moderate-to-vigorous physical activity produced even better results.
“When it comes to physical activity,” said Fishman, “more is better than less, and anything is better than nothing.”
The findings were published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.