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Bursts of physical activity 'can offset health risk of prolonged sitting'

20:00 EDT 27 Jul 2016 | Arthritis Research UK

New research has indicated that bursts of physical activity can be extremely beneficial in helping to offset the proven health risks of a sedentary lifestyle.

Conducted by researchers at the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences and the University of Cambridge, the study indicated that even brisk walking or cycling for pleasure can help to mitigate this risk.

The beneficial effects of exercise
Published in The Lancet, the research analysed data from more than one million people drawn from 16 separate studies. The aim was to determine how many hours of daily physical activity would be required to eliminate the association between prolonged sitting time and an increased risk of death.

It was shown that people who sat for eight 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.

In fact, the increased risk of death associated with sitting for eight hours a day was completely eliminated for those who did a minimum of one hour of physical activity per day, while the greatest risk of death was seen among those who who were both sedentary and inactive.

The importance of exercising when you can
Current World Health Organization guidelines recommend that adults should do at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, which is lower than the 60 to 75 minutes per day identified in this study.

However, only around 25 per cent of those included in the study actually did an hour or more of physical activity per day. The researchers acknowledged that for many people with office-based jobs, long periods of sitting may be unavoidable. As such, they recommended that individuals take any opportunity they can to get active, even if this simply means taking a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning or cycling to work.

Lead author Professor Ulf Ekelund of the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences and the University of Cambridge said: "There has been a lot of concern about the health risks associated with today's more sedentary lifestyles. Our message is a positive one: it is possible to reduce - or even eliminate - these risks if we are active enough, even without having to take up sports or go to the gym."

The Arthritis Research UK view
Arthritis Research UK GP spokesperson Dr Tom Margham said: "This study highlights the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle. It adds to what we know already: regular exercise helps you live longer and stronger by keeping joints supple, building muscle endurance and strength, and maintaining bone density.

"Joint and muscle pain is the biggest cause of pain and disability in the UK, accounting for more than 100,000 GP consultations every day. It's vital that everyone, regardless of whether or not you're experiencing joint pain, incorporates activity in their daily lives. Often, the simplest exercises are the best and our Keep Moving booklet includes helpful suggestions for all types of exercise."

Original Article: Bursts of physical activity 'can offset health risk of prolonged sitting'

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