Although the phrase “sitting is the new smoking” is a bit sensationalized, it does make a great argument for remaining active in our ultra-convenient, modern world. Inactivity is a dangerous lifestyle factor, greatly increasing the risk of chronic disease and even the risk of an early death. Thankfully, this risk factor is a modifiable behavior.
Some health recommendations for physical activity are to walk 10,000 steps a day or to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, but can these recommendations undo the damage sitting all day does to our bodies? A recent meta-analysis published in The Lancet looked into this question to determine how much physical activity it would take to reduce these health risks -- if that was even possible.
Thankfully, the results were promising: the analysis concluded that 60 to 75 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (e.g., walking at 3.5 mph) per day was sufficient enough to reduce the risk of early death associated with sitting for over eight hours per day.
On a similar note, a recent study looked at blood glucose levels in sedentary, overweight and obese individuals, particularly those who sit for at least eight hours a day at their job. It was found that those who moved just a little more than average, or even broke up their sitting with standing periodically, saw decreased blood glucose levels throughout the day. The activities implemented during the study included slow walking or pedaling at a treadmill desk or stationary work bike.
Bottom Line: The gym isn’t the only way to combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle or the 9 to 5 office job. An hour of walking throughout the day can greatly reduce your risk of chronic disease or early death. Walking to work, at lunch or during meetings is an easy way to increase your steps during the workday.