Just two minutes can save your life from sitting

Pressure on a sensitive part of your body is killing you even as you read this. A simple, 2-minute activity can relieve that pressure and help you live longer.

The sensitive part of your body in question is the part that is plumped down in your chair. Studies show that by spending too many hours sitting, it shortens your life expectancy. But breaking up your periods of sitting with two minutes of walking every hour can negate much of the harm sitting down is causing.

A study at the University of Utah School of Medicine shows that if you spend more than half of your day in a chair you need to walk a couple of minutes every hour to avoid a faster trip to a casket.

The researchers found that two minutes of even “light intensity” activity an hour can defend against sitting’s increase in your risk for heart disease, diabetes and other ills.

“It was fascinating to see the results because the current national focus is on moderate or vigorous activity. To see that light activity had an association with lower mortality is intriguing,” says researcher Srinivasan Beddhu.

Beddhu points out that just two minutes of walking during every waking hour adds up to quite a bit of exercise over a period of weeks and months. If you do two minutes of walking every hour for 16 hours each day, you burn up about 400 extra calories each week. That adds up to more than 20,000 calories a year.

The researchers still believe that you should do moderate exercise during the week – at least 2.5 hours of activities like fast walking, jogging, playing basketball, weight-lifting, etc., to strengthen the cardiovascular system and skeletal muscles. But light exercise to interrupt your sitting is important, too.

“Our study suggests that even small changes can have a big impact,” says researcher Tom Greene, who is with the Medical School’s Department of Population Health Sciences.

If you’re reading this on a smartphone sitting down, stand up and walk for a few minutes. Do that enough times and your entire body will thank you.

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Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.