Good news, office workers – just 22 MINUTES of brisk walking ‘is enough to offset death risk from sitting down for too long’

Just 22 minutes of brisk walking, cycling or running a day can offset the risk of death from sitting too much.

In Western countries such as Britain, adults spend an average of nine to ten hours a day sitting, especially during the time they are at work.

This sedentary lifestyle, which is difficult for office workers to avoid, increases the likelihood of an early death, increasing the risk of health problems from obesity and high blood pressure to diabetes and heart disease.

But by exercising moderately and vigorously for more than 22 minutes a day, a study “eliminates” the risk of premature death from too much sitting.

Researchers looked at almost 12,000 people aged 50 and over from large health studies in Norway, Sweden and the US, who were given fitness trackers to assess their physical activity.

In Western countries such as Britain, adults spend an average of nine to ten hours a day sitting, especially during the time they are at work

In Western countries such as Britain, adults spend an average of nine to ten hours a day sitting, especially during the time they are at work

They were followed for an average of five years, during which time 805 people died.

The mortality rate among sedentary people, compared with those who were less sedentary, and among those who got different amounts of exercise, yielded interesting findings.

Researchers found that being sedentary for more than 12 hours a day is linked to a 38 percent higher risk of premature death than being sedentary for eight hours a day.

But this was only the case for those who performed less than 22 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day.

The research supports the UK Chief Medical Officers’ recommendation that people aim for 150 minutes of MVPA per week – around 21 minutes per day.

NHS guide to increasing your step count

Make it a habit

The easiest way to walk more is to make walking a habit, says the NHS.

Think of ways to incorporate walking into your daily routine.

Examples include:

  • walking part of your journey to work
  • walk to the shops
  • use the stairs instead of the elevator
  • leaving the car behind for short journeys
  • taking the children to school
  • take a regular walk with a friend
  • take a walk with family or friends after dinner

Listen to music

Walking while listening to music or a podcast can take your mind off the exertion.

It can also get you into a rhythm and help you walk faster.

You’ll be surprised how quickly time flies when you’re walking to your favorite music.

Mix it

Add variety to your walks. You don’t have to travel to the countryside to find a rewarding hike.

Villages and towns offer interesting walks including parks, heritage trails, canal towpaths, riverside paths, commons, woodland, moorland and nature reserves.

Join a walking group

Walking in a group is a great way to start walking, make new friends and stay motivated.

Ramblers organizes group walks for health, leisure and as a means of getting around for people of all ages, backgrounds and fitness levels.

Dr. Jakob Tarp, senior author of the study, said: ‘For many people, being less sedentary in our daily lives is not possible.

‘So this is hopeful that people can do a relatively small amount of physical activity and offset the effects of sitting all day.

‘The most important thing is that this is achievable, for example by taking a brisk walk during the lunch break or after work, or by making small changes during the day, such as taking the stairs instead of the lift.’

Moderate and vigorous exercise seems to work especially well for people who are very sedentary.

Doing 10 minutes a day of this type of exercise, compared to zero minutes, reduced the risk of premature death by 15 percent for people who were sedentary for less than 10.5 hours a day.

But for those who were sedentary for longer, the risk of premature death fell much more: by 35 percent.

However, light physical activity only seemed to be significantly effective in people who were more sedentary, for more than twelve hours a day.

The research, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, shows that it is better to exercise more moderately or vigorously than simply reducing the time you spend sitting.

The study authors took into account factors such as people’s age, BMI and health conditions, including cardiovascular disease.

Examples of moderate activity include brisk walking, cycling, pushing a lawn mower, dancing, or playing doubles tennis.

Vigorous activities, which make you breathe hard and fast, include running, sports such as football and netball, jumping rope and climbing stairs.

Regina Giblin, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘This research supports previous findings showing the negative effects of sitting for long periods of time and the positive impact of exercise.

‘It has previously been shown that sitting still for long periods of time increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

‘There are a few simple tips that can help you spend less time sitting.

“Regularly stepping away from your computer screen, going for a walk, or cooking a healthy meal from scratch are ways to incorporate active time into your day.”