Exercise is good for you. But it’s not like you can just check off that box marked “exercise” on your daily to-do list, then sit in front of the TV or at your desk for the rest of the day and expect to stay healthy.
Dr. Keith Diaz directs the exercise testing lab at the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.
“For decades,” says Dr. Diaz, “we’ve been telling people that the way to stay healthy is to get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.”
But, in addition to what kind of exercise is best and what sorts of activities count as “exercise,” what you do with the other 23 and half hours in the day can either add to or take away from the benefits of those 30 minutes of exercise…
That’s something that most studies haven’t looked at … until now.
What you’re about to learn may surprise you.
Light exercise is just as beneficial as sweating
A new study by an international team of researchers has found that, even if you engage in strenuous exercise, you’ll live longer if you also include a few hours of light physical activity in your day.
In this study, people who spent just a few minutes engaging in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity lowered their risk of early death by 30 percent… but only if they also spent six hours engaging in light physical activity.
Examples of light physical activity include walking slowly, playing pool (billiards) or croquet, fishing and light housework such as cooking, dusting, ironing, folding laundry, washing dishes and putting away groceries.
The one thing that can undo all your hard work
Sitting isn’t as bad for your health as smoking, but it’s still bad, says Dr. Diaz.
“While there will always be sitting in our lives, as with most things in life, it’s about sitting in moderation. The key is to find the right balance of sedentary time and physical activity.”
Say you and a friend each perform 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily. But then you go about your day differently. You spend less than 7 hours sitting and your friend sits for a whopping 11 hours.
Because you sat less, you reaped huge benefits from that 30-minute exercise session, reducing your odds of early death by 80 percent.
Your friend? She totally worked up that sweat for naught. That’s because people who are sedentary for more than eleven hours in a day, even when they put in that same 30 minutes of daily exercise, don’t reduce their death risk at all.
Knowing this, the research team has come up with a formula to help us balance exercise and sitting in our day-to-day lives to achieve the benefits that will help us live longer.
“Our new formula gets at the right balance between moderate-to-vigorous exercise and sitting to help people lead a longer, healthier life,” says Dr. Sebastien Chastin, professor of health behavior dynamics at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland and lead author of the study.
For example, you can put in just three minutes of exercise in a day, but if you combine it with six hours of light physical activity and less than ten hours of sitting, you will be reducing your risk of early death by 30 percent.
Just keep on trucking to lengthen your life
The moral of the story: keep moving throughout your day as much as possible, and you’ll increase your odds of living a long, healthy life.
Studies have found that just going from sitting to standing can improve your health and decrease your risk of an untimely death.
And keeping a brisk pace when you walk may slash your odds of an early death in half, especially if you’re over 60.
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Different Physical Activity ‘Cocktails’ Have Similar Health Benefits — Neuroscience News
Joint association between accelerometry-measured daily combination of time spent in physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep and all-cause mortality: a pooled analysis of six prospective cohorts using compositional analysis — British Journal of Sports Medicine