One hour of physical activity each day could reduce the risk of early death associated with a sedentary lifestyle, research suggests.
This study, a four-paper series published in The Lancet, has been released to coincide with the Olympic Games, which start in August.
The researchers hope these findings will lead to reduced inactivity, which is known to increase the risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
Lead author Professor Ulf Ekelund, Norwegian School of Sports Sciences and the University of Cambridge, and colleagues re-examined 13 existing papers investigating the effects of exercise.
They found that people who sat for eight hours a day, but were physically active, had a lower risk of early death than people who sat for less hours a day, but were not active.
Ekelund said: “For many people who commute to work and have office-based jobs, there is no way to escape sitting for prolonged periods of time.
“For these people in particular, we cannot stress enough the importance of getting exercise, whether it’s getting out for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning or cycling to work.
“An hour of physical activity per day is the ideal, but if this is unmanageable, then at least doing some exercise each day can help reduce the risk.”
The World Health Organisation recommends that adults aged 18-64 perform 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, but Ekeland warned that an hour’s moderate activity is much higher than current recommendations.
In a different paper, the researchers observed that the global cost worldwide cost of physical inactivity is at least $67.5 billion.
“Physical inactivity is recognized as a global pandemic that not only leads to diseases and early deaths, but imposes a major burden to the economy,” said Dr. Melody Ding, University of Sydney’s School of Public Health, Australia.
Ekeland and colleagues also report than watching television for more than three hours a day was linked to an increased risk of premature death, but not among those who were most active.
The authors believe this association could be due to people snacking while watching TV, which could affect their metabolism and make them less likely to exercise.

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