Only 20 to 25 minutes of housework, walking fast or jogging daily could be a lifesaver for people who spend much of their time sitting, a study has found.
Adding modest amounts of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) to your daily routine is effective in reducing the death risks linked to sedentary lifestyles, the research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine says.
About 12,000 participants, all above the age of 50, were monitored to see how sitting for hours and physical activity levels relate to the risk of death.
The study explored previous research and combined that with individual participant data to paint a more nuanced picture.
“Every minute higher MVPA showed a lower risk of death,” said Dr Edvard Sagelv from the Arctic University of Norway.
“In our study, we found that only those people doing more than 12 hours per day sitting had a higher risk of death.
“We are talking about any sitting behaviour – such as being in the office or watching TV for long periods of time."
He said that embracing an average of 22 daily minutes of physical activity like brisk walking or housework could offset the health risks of long sedentary hours.
The study considered myriad factors such as the participants’ health history, lifestyle choices and demographic profiles.
The balance between time spent while inactive and when doing physical activities ranging from light to vigorous was also explored.
An extra 10 minutes of daily physical activity and reduced inactive hours had benefits, showing a 15 per cent to 35 per cent lower risk of death.
Regina Giblin, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said the research supports previous findings "that show the negative effects of long periods sitting down and the positive impact of exercise".
“It’s previously been shown that being sedentary for long periods increases the risk of heart and circulatory disease," she said.
“There are some simple tips that can help to spend less time sitting down.
“Walking away from your computer screen at regular intervals, going for a walk or cooking a healthy meal from scratch are ways to incorporate active time into your day.
“Being active can help you control your weight, reduce your blood pressure and improve your mental health.”