Research warns that a sedentary lifestyle coupled with a desk job can negatively affect your health and can even lead to an early death. Fortunately, a study conducted by researchers from Columbia University Irving Medical Center says that staying active even if you sit most of the day can lower your risk of health problems.
Findings suggest that 30 minutes of physical activity every day will help cancel out a day of sitting down at your office. These findings were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
The health benefits of quick workouts
For the study, researchers evaluated 7,999 healthy adults aged 45 and older. The volunteers previously took part in a separate study that required them to wear activity monitors for at least four days from 2009 to 2013.
The monitors worn by the participants recorded the amount and intensity of their physical activity. Using this data, the researchers tracked the mortality and health risks that the participants experienced during a five-year period.
The researchers determined that substituting 30 minutes of sitting with light physical activity can reduce your risk of an early death by at least 17 percent. (Related: Pedal desks could help reduce the health risks associated with a sedentary workplace.)
Countering sedentary time with more moderate to vigorous exercise, such as biking or running, can lower your risk of early mortality by 35 percent. The researchers added that even one- to two-minute bursts of movement also offered long-term health benefits.
In a press release, Dr. Keith Diaz, an assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, explained that even if your job or lifestyle requires you to sit for long periods, it is possible to lower your risk of early death by being physically active.
Tips for staying active when you work at an office
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four adults in the country sits for more than eight hours a day. Previous research also determined that at least 40 percent of adults don’t prioritize physical activity.
Dr. Sanjiv Patel, a cardiologist at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, explained that sitting for about six to eight hours a day can increase your risk of “truncal obesity, hypertension, higher blood sugar, [and] higher cholesterol levels leading to metabolic syndrome, which then has increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from those events.”
A sedentary lifestyle causes your metabolic system to fall asleep. Expending less energy results in a buildup of energy in the form of fat. Fat buildup then triggers an increase in stress hormones, which causes higher blood pressure and blood sugar. These conditions can increase your risk for chronic diseases.
The human body was designed to stay active. When you move, you increase your muscle strength and cardiovascular health. At the same time, physical activity reduces your risk for various diseases like cancer and diabetes. Additionally, physical activity can improve your overall mood, decrease stress levels, and, prolong your lifespan.
You don’t need to pay for a gym membership if you want to exercise. If you have a desk job, get up from your chair every hour or so and walk around or stretch. Use the stairs instead of the elevator to burn more calories.
Another option is to do some light calisthenics every couple of hours. Move to a quiet, empty corner, then do crunches, squats, or push-ups. Taking breaks throughout a workday also improves your concentration, relaxation, and focus.
If you have a desk job, get up and exercise every other hour to get your blood flowing and to keep your body healthy.