According to a new study, one hour of physical activity is enough to counter the negative effects of sedentary work. For some people, physical activity isn’t asking much, but for others, it takes a lot of effort. Is fighting sedentarism a losing bet? Not if we make an educated gamble.
A Norwegian and British study, that examined data from approximately one million participants, recommends 60 to 75 minutes of physical activity for every 8 hours of seated work. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends much more than that at 150 minutes of weekly physical activity.
“For these 8 hours seated, we can walk for 60 to 75 minutes, but if we spend another 5 hours watching television, more time needs to be added, it isn’t enough.” Qualifies the Centre sportif de l’UQAM [UQAM Sports Centre] kinesiologist Andrée Dionne. The couch’s siren call can be tempting after a hard day working, but in the long run it increasingly impacts health. The list of sedentarism’s consequences is long: obesity, slouching, back pain, cardiac problems, and more.
But you don’t need to fight it by sweating every night at the gym. Some great ways to get yourself moving is to power walk or ride a bike at 16 km/h. However, keep in mind that only three weekly jogging sessions are enough to protect you, because you need to move a little bit, but often.
Tricks to get you moving
Workers with chaotic, overloaded hours might find this goal hard to achieve, but there are many tricks to stretch your legs a little more often, almost effortlessly. “We recommend moving for two minutes every hour,” explains Dionne. “I think everyone—no matter what their work—can get up for water, use the bathroom, or make a phone call while standing. When we go back to work, we are more alert.”
The kinesiologist also recommends building personal tricks to move around more like talking to a colleague instead of sending an email, standing while having meetings or taking the bus and metro. We can also install an application on our phone or computer to remind us to get up every hour. Dionne affirms, “When all these two-minute sessions add up, the problem decreases.”
If we must absolutely work in front of a computer screen, a standing desk or treadmill gives us plenty of steps without negatively impacting productivity. In fact, walking while typing needs some concentration but can provide many benefits. No need to jog, keeping yourself a little busy is enough. We can even take advantage of our lunch hour by taking a walk outside.
Fighting against sedentarism is far from a losing bet, instead it just needs some planning… and maybe a pair of running shoes!
Study on 60-75 minutes of recommended physical activity: www.thelancet.com/series/physical-activity-2016
Study on the length of meetings: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/apl/84/2/277/