(Relaxnews) – Regardless of regular exercise, prolonged sedentary periods still pose major health threats, according to researchers in Canada who added that a high level of exercise could play some role in lessening the impact.
“Avoiding sedentary time and getting regular exercise are both important for improving your health and survival,” says Dr. Alter, Senior Scientist, Toronto Rehab, University Health Network (UHN), and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. “It is not good enough to exercise for 30 minutes a day and be sedentary for 23 and half hours.”
Yet the meta-analysis, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that those with high exercise quotients experience fewer of the consequences of sitting.
“The findings suggest that the health risk of sitting too much is less pronounced when physical activity is increased,” says lead author Avi Biswas, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. “We need further research to better understand how much physical activity is needed to offset the health risks associated with long sedentary time and optimize our health.”
In what could be a reference to the wearable tracker industry, whose standard feature offers users a tally of how many steps they take per day, Dr. Alter suggests monitoring sedentary time.
Taking into account how long we spend sitting is what could finally motivate us to change our ways, says Dr. Alter, who suggests a target of decreasing sedentary time by two to three hours in a 12-hour day.
Once this is accounted for, Dr. Alter suggests setting attainable goals and keeping an eye out for opportunities to be more physically active.
For example, when at work, it’s a good idea to stand up and move for between one and three minutes every half hour, and he advises individuals to stand up and walk during television commercials when watching TV.
“More than one half of an average person’s day is spent being sedentary — sitting, watching television, or working at a computer,” says Dr. Alter.