Desk-bound office workers, listen up: it’s time to bin that Opal card and lace up your sneakers instead. According to a new study out of the University of Sydney, you can cancel out the harmful effects of sitting down all day by walking home instead.
Researchers recruited almost 150,000 Aussie men and women aged 45 and older and asked them to complete a questionnaire detailing how many hours a day they spent sitting, standing and sleeping and how much time per week they spent walking or engaging in physical activity over a nine-year period.
They found that those who sat for more than six hours daily and didn’t meet the recommended level of physical activity (150-300 mins of moderate exercise or 75-150 mins of vigorous exercise) had the highest risk of dying from any cause.
But when they replaced just one hour of sitting with moderate physical activity (be it strenuous walking, gardening or housework) they reduced their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 20 per cent. When this hour was spent doing vigorous activity (i.e. swimming, aerobics or tennis) the benefits were even greater, with a 64 per cent reduction in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
The study’s lead author, Professor Stamatakis, believes these findings will be useful for public health officials, health care workers and people who sit a lot, such as those in sedentary jobs.
“Any movement is good for health but physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity – that is activities that get people out of breath– is the most potent and most time-efficient,” he said.
“Exercise and sports are a great way to be active but are not the only way – walking fast, climbing stairs, and cycling to get from place to place are only some of the many opportunities everyday life offers to move and even ‘huff and puff’ sometimes.”