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On your toes for 60 mins

06
May
2017
Anne-Kathrine Utzon
Office people should spend at least an hour every day on physical activities to prevent/offset the harmful effects of their sedentary work behind a desk, warns a British study.  

The study encourages people who work in offices to do physical activity for at least an hour per day, to prevent threatening lifestyle diseases triggered by their many sedentary hours at their desks. 

According to the research office, people's risk of dying increases dramatically more if they are sitting for eight hours a day, than if they are sitting in the office chair for less than four hours a day.

“You don’t necessarily need to do gymnastics or fitness exercises on the office floor. A brisk walk around the office corridors in the morning, at lunchtime, in the afternoon and after dinner at home also counts.”

“It’s alright to divide your physical activities throughout the day–as long as you are moving for at least an hour a day," emphasizes Professor at the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences and researcher at Cambridge University Ulf Ekelund, who is one of the driving forces behind the current reminder to office workers.

Exercise is a must 

The study is based upon data from over a million office workers worldwide, whom international experts have followed for between two and 18 years. 

Office workers who sat down behind the desk for eight hours a day or more had 9.9 percent risk of dying, compared with 6.8 percent for those who were seated for less than four hours and were physically active for at least one hour a day.

Exercise

"Many commute to the office in the morning and work behind the desk for many hours at a time. This group of people, who are in a high risk, should understand the importance of doing exercise, whether they choose to go for a walk during their lunch break, go for a run in the morning or cycling to work.”

An hour of physical activity each day - or at least some basic motion exercises - can reduce their risk of dying from sedentary work," says Ulf Ekelund.

Lifestyle diseases

In recent years, a number of similar studies worldwide demonstrated and warned how sedentary work affects the metabolism and reduces the body's ability to convert sugars and fats. 

Lack of muscle activity increases the risk of developing lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Office workers in particular therefore need to regularly use their muscles.

The World Health Organization recommends in its guidelines that adults should be physically active for at least two and a half hours a week. 

But this exercise quota is now clearly being trumped by the new British research report, which based its findings on data from 16 different studies from around the world.

Ulf Ekelund points out that the new study's clear recommendation for office people to move more absolutely should be taken literally: "Office workers should, during their sedentary working, strive to use their feet and walk as much as possible.

If it is part of your job to sit behind the desk for a long period of time, you must attempt to break these periods up with short activity intervals - for example by making sure you move around on your feet for five minutes in an hour," he says.

Read more: 

Eurekalert.org: One hour of physical activity per day could offset health risk of 8 hours of sitting
Medscape.com: One Hour of Activity Offsets Risks From 8 Hours of Sitting
Theguardian.com: Office employees should be on feet for four hours of working day

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