You've seen the headline: "Sitting is the new smoking." Study after study on sitting habits had linked sitting too long with earlier death—regardless of exercise. So what can you do if you sit for too long? New research from the University of Cambridge changes the story.
Reviewing 16 studies spanning 13 years and compiling data from over 1 million people, the researchers found that one hour of moderate-intensity exercise a day (such as brisk walking or casual biking) can eliminate the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle, or sitting for more than eight hours a day. This is the first systematic review of the topic. The researchers say that, individually, the studies may have been too narrow to capture the impact of exercise. Collectively, however, the benefit comes through.
The one caveat: if you spend five or more hours per day watching television, 60 to 75 minutes of daily exercise can reduce your risks but likely won't eliminate them. Lead researcher Ulf Ekelund, Ph.D., notes, "Watching TV might be associated with an unhealthy lifestyle—even when there's plenty of physical activity happening."
Can't commit to a solid hour at the gym? Split it up into segments as short as 10 minutes. Sneak more movement into your day by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, running errands on foot or biking to work. Another bonus of stepping it up? Swiss researchers found that people who used stairs instead of elevators for 12 weeks lost half an inch around their waists.