From: The Lancet via EurekAlert!
Published July 28, 2016 07:10 AM

One hour of physical activity per day could offset health risk of 8 hours of sitting

A new study of over 1 million people finds that doing at least one hour of physical activity per day, such as brisk walking or cycling for pleasure, may eliminate the increased risk of death associated with sitting for 8h a day.

Physical inactivity is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers and is associated with more than 5 million deaths per year and, as the first global economic analysis of physical inactivity shows, costs the world economy over US$67.5 billion per year in health care costs and lost productivity.

The findings come from a new four-paper Series published today in The Lancet and launched in London ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. The authors of the Series warn there has been too little progress in tackling the global pandemic of physical inactivity since the 2012 Olympics, with a quarter of adults worldwide still failing to meet current recommendations on physical activity.

Researchers analysed data from over 1 million people from 16 studies. The research team wanted to see how many hours of daily physical activity would be required to eliminate the association between prolonged sitting time and increased risk of death. Examples of physical activity were brisk walking at 5.6 km/h or cycling for pleasure at 16 km/h.

The researchers classified individuals into four equally sized groups according to how active they were - less than 5 mins a day for the least active, up to 60-75 mins a day for the most active.

People who sat for 8 hours a day but were physically active had a much lower risk of death compared to people who sat for fewer hours a day, but were not physically active. This suggests that physical activity is particularly important, no matter how many hours a day are spent sitting. In fact, the increased risk of death associated with sitting for 8 hours a day was eliminated for people who did a minimum of 1 hour physical activity per day. The greatest risk of death was for people who sat for long periods of time and were inactive.

WHO guidelines recommend that adults should do at least 150 mins of physical activity per week, which is much lower than the 60-75 mins per day identified in this analysis. The study also warns of the progress that remains to be made in increasing levels of physical activity since only about 25% of people in the analysis did an hour or more physical activity per day.

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