Exercising for two-and-a-half hours a week can reverse the effects of sitting down, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Leicester, found that just 22 minutes of moderate physical activity a day can provide a health boost.
Sedentary behaviour is often linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and even premature death, with many adults in the UK spending more than seven hours a day sitting down.
Dr Thomas Yates, who worked on the study, said: “It is possible for an individual, over the course of a day, to have high levels of physical activity and still accumulate large amounts of sedentary time.”
The study, published in BMC Public Health, used data from the 2008 Health Survey to paint a representative sample of English adults.
They were grouped into four categories: ‘Busy Bees’ – physically active with low sedentary levels; ‘Sedentary Exercisers’ – physically active with high sedentary levels; ‘Light Movers’ – physically inactive, had low sedentary; and ‘Couch Potatoes’ – physically inactive, high sedentary.
Importance of physical activity
Dr Yates added: “Overall, adults who engaged in at least 150 min of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week, including ‘Sedentary Exercisers’, had more favourable health profiles compared to those categorised as ‘Couch Potatoes’.
“By suggesting that being physically active may offset some of the deleterious consequences of routinely engaging in high levels of sedentary behaviour, this study further emphasises the importance of physical activity in the promotion and maintenance of health.”
University of Leicester researcher Kishan Bakrania added: “This research is significant because it demonstrates yet again why physical activity and exercise is so important.
“It shows that people who spend large amounts of time not moving either through work, leisure or lifestyle can counteract some of the negative effects of sedentary behaviour by regularly exercising.”

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