Experts have developed a formula to reduce the risk of early death by almost a third – designed especially for people who spend a lot of time sitting down. That’s plenty of us, then.
A team of scientists, led by researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University, found three minutes of ‘moderate’ exercise for each hour of the day you spend sitting could cut early fatalities by up to 30%.
Moderate aerobic exercise, as defined by the NHS, is any activity that “will raise your heart rate, and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity level is if you can still talk, but not sing.”
And the good news: researchers found that 12 minutes of even ‘light’ activity – walking, for instance – for every 60 minutes sitting achieves the same effect.
Professor Sebastien Chastin said: “Our new formula found that three minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per hour of sitting will get the balance right and help you live a longer, healthier life. The leftover hours should be spent generally moving around as much as you can and getting a good night’s sleep.
“This new cocktail, or simple formula, really boosts your health protection.”
Prof Chastin and his team analysed data from six different studies around the world that used sensors to measure the movement of more than 130,000 people throughout the day. “It’s really reliable data,” he said.
“We wanted to find out what the perfect cocktail of physical activity throughout a day was for maximum health in terms of the time spent sitting, exercising, just moving around, and sleeping, and how these all work together.
“This is the largest study in the world into the best cocktail of activity for a longer life and protection against ill health.”
“The best cocktail of activity for a longer life and protection against ill health.”
– Professor Sebastien Chastin
Previous studies have looked at the impact of different activities in isolation, but this is the first to suggest the best combination to prolong life. The four-year study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, analysed data from more than 130,000 adults in the UK, US and Sweden.
The current widespread recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day is said to reduce the odds of an earlier death by up to 80%. But this applies to those who sit for less than seven hours a day and was not found to reduce mortality risk for individuals who are very sedentary, making these new findings and the three-minute formula all the more useful.