The increased risk of death associated with sitting for eight hours a day could be offset by one hour of physical activity a day.
The University of Queensland School of Human Movement and Nutrition Studies Professor Wendy Brown contributed to a study that analysed data from more than one million people.
‘People who sat for eight hours a day but were physically active had a much lower risk of death than those who sat for fewer hours, but were not physically active’ Professor Brown said; ‘This suggests physical activity is important, no matter how long you spend sitting each day. Indeed, the risk of death associated with sitting for eight hours a day was eliminated for people who did a minimum of one hour of physical activity per day. The greatest risk of death was for people who both sat for long periods of time and were inactive.’
The findings, published in medical journal The Lancet, support the recommendation made in the Australian physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines.
The guidelines advise all adults to accumulate between 30 and 60 minutes of physical activity per day, with the upper end of this range offsetting the harmful effects of too much sitting.
Only about a quarter of the people included in the study did an hour or more of exercise per day. For those of us in the fitness industry, this is the great untapped market of people who need our services.
The researchers also found that sitting watching television for more than three hours per day was linked to an increased risk of death in all activity groups except the most active.
‘We stress this is not because of a causal link between watching TV and an increased risk of death’ Brown said; ‘There could be a number of factors which contribute, such as long hours watching TV being a marker of a generally unhealthier lifestyle, or snacking while watching TV.’