How to counteract sedentary behavior

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  • If you sit a lot during the day, just getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week won’t be enough to counter sedentary behavior, new research shows.
  • Researchers recommend getting three minutes of moderate to vigorous activity or 12 minutes of light activity every hour of sitting.
  • Light activity, such as tidying up, walking the dog, gardening, or even a few minutes of stretching, can be more beneficial to your health than you might think.

    At this point, “don’t sit too much” has reached the same level as other health tips like wearing sunscreen, drinking more water, and getting enough sleep.

    The good news is that you can counteract this sedentary behavior if you incorporate more light physical activity throughout your day, regardless of the appearance of the activity, according to a recent study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine. And yes, this advice applies to you even if you are going to run for 30 minutes but spend the rest of the day sitting; it is important to consider your activity patterns throughout the day.

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    Researchers analyzed six studies that represented more than 130,000 adults in the UK, Sweden and the US, looking at data on moderate to vigorous exercise, such as running, as well as light physical activity, such as housework or leisurely walking.

    They found that those who did at least half an hour of more vigorous exercise significantly reduced their risk of early mortality compared to those who were predominantly sedentary. No surprise there, but they also noted that the association between moderate to vigorous activity and mortality depended on how these participants spent the rest of their day.

    Those who incorporated lighter activity into different combinations – called “cocktails” by study co-author Keith Diaz, Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Medical Center – were much more likely to reap longer term benefits.

    That’s because just getting the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise won’t be enough if you sit too much, he said. The runner’s world.

    “A healthy movement profile requires more than 30 minutes of daily exercise,” he said. “Getting around and not being sedentary all day is also important. He added that he didn’t believe the hype about how sitting is the new smoking, but that moderation is key.

    Researchers recommend a 3-to-1 cocktail mix, which means three minutes of moderate to vigorous activity or 12 minutes of light activity for every hour of sitting. Here’s what it might look like in a few examples:

    • 55 minutes of exercise, 4 hours of light physical activity and 11 hours of sitting
    • 13 minutes of exercise, 5.5 hours of light physical activity, and 10.3 hours of sitting
    • 3 minutes of exercise, 6 hours of light physical activity and 9.7 hours of sitting

      However, that doesn’t mean stacking all of your activities at once, Diaz pointed out. The key is to sip your movement cocktails throughout the day, rather than gorging yourself and being done, followed by hours and hours of sitting.

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      This advice is consistent with previous research that emphasized movement based on frequency, not just intensity. What’s new about this research is that the amount of light activity – tidying up, walking the dog, gardening, even a few minutes of stretching – may be more meaningful than you think.

      “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to physical activity,” Diaz said. “But you have to be mindful of matching your activity levels to your sedentary behavior during the day. The more you have to sit, the more you should take those physical activity breaks during the day.

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