Sitting the new smoking
We’ve seen in the news recently how prolonged sitting is bad for our health. We’ve even seen how it’s been dubbed as “the new smoking”, which suggests that it’s so bad, it shortens our lives!
New research from the University of Utah suggests that simply standing does not offset the dangers of sitting, but walking for an additional two minutes for each hour of the day might! It doesn’t completely offset the dangers of prolonged sitting, but does apparently reduce the risk of early death by 33%, but this is providing we maintain our 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week.
This study examined over 3000 participants from the NHANES survey (a large survey in the US that looks at nutritional and health status of adults and children) who were using accelerometers to capture their activities and followed for three years. This is not an interventional study, so conclusions cannot be drawn regarding whether this additional 2 minutes of walking definitively leads to better health.
Related blog: Lack of exercise kills more than obesity
In January, I posted on Facebook the results of a University of Cambridge study which suggested that a brisk 20 minute walk every day would be enough to reduce the risk of an early death. This research was done on a much larger population – over 300,000 European men and women – and showed that twice as many deaths could be attributable to physical inactivity compared to obesity. Physical inactivity is also associated with greater risk of diseases of the heart and some cancers. The researchers estimated that just a 20 minute brisk walk everyday, burning between 90 and 100kcal, could reduce the risk of early death by up to as much as 30%.
Seb is a writer and blogger of food and nutrition. He holds a bachelors and a masters degree in nutrition science, and has studied sports and exercise nutrition at postgraduate level. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and believes passionately that we can all live with a little less meat.