A recent study conducted by scientists from Norwegian School of Sport Sciences concluded that the detrimental effects of sedentary lifestyle on health, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, cancer and death can be reduced by increasing physical activity to 60-75 minutes per day.
The researchers went on to say that a moderate intensity physical activity helps in eliminating the increased risk linked to high sitting time. Similar physical activity routine can help reduce, but not eliminate, mortality rate associated with TV viewing time.
The study has established a connection between high amounts of sedentary behaviors and health conditions leading to mortality. In the past, many research studies have been conducted that have established a similar relation. However, what sets this study apart from them is the inclusion of a link of these factors with physical exercise. All-cause mortality was examined which was resulted by sedentary behaviors and further investigations were carried out to see if increasing daily physical activity can attenuate or eliminate the associated adverse effects. Crucial in its scope and relevance to global population who leads a sedentary lifestyle, the findings of this study were published by the journal named The Lancet on 27 July.
The study was a prospective cohort meta-analysis of 16 studies which included over 1 million men and women. The analysis observed variables including daily sitting hours, TV viewing time, physical activity and reported mortality. The participants, who were followed up for 1 to 18.1 years, were divided into groups based on the hours of sitting time, TV viewing time and their physical activity measured in terms of metabolic equivalent of tasks (MET) hours per week.
The study recorded 8.4% deaths by the time of its conclusion. The reference and experimental groups had a daily sitting time of less than four hours and from four to more than eight hours a day respectively. The mortality rates were 12-59% higher in experimental group. On the contrary, the mortality rate for participants watching TV for three or more hours remained unaffected by physical activity unless it qualified as most active quartile of physical activity.
While causes of anomalous trends on TV watching hours, physical activity and related mortality rate remain unclear, it is likely to be linked to unhealthy snacking during TV watching. Secondly, people are more likely to spend hours watching TV after dinner which also reduces the efficient working of digestive system, subsequently causing obesity leading to cardiovascular disease-related mortality.
In this age of development, the scientific advancements have made our lives easier. As we enjoy increased convenience in our life, we often fail to recognize the price we pay to earn this comfort. Be it the speedy automobiles or the advent of hoverboards to ease our commuting or elevators replacing the use of stairs at workplace, the amount of physical activity in our lives continues to diminish by day. This ease in lifestyle doesn’t only reduce our daily physical activity but also leaves us lethargic. Now, we often prefer to snuggle in bed and use social media sites instead of taking a walk down the lane to socialize with neighbors in real time. Our visual presence on the internet might have made connectivity easier for us but it also has played a role making us increasingly lazy.
All of this complemented by our hours long desk-work is eating away our health like termite and we sit in sheer oblivion. Predominantly, the office going population commute to and from the workplace in comfortable vehicles and sit for hours at stretch in between as during the work-hours. This exceeded seat-bound work has detrimental effects on our health and scientists have made such claims for years.
With the surfacing of this study which has quantified the amount of physical activity per day which can be completed in pieces, people who spend hours in their offices can now have a direction to follow.
In this regard, lead researcher Professor Ulf Ekelund emphasized on breaks to walk around and said: “Take a five minute break every hour, go to the next office, go upstairs to the coffee machine, go to the printer. Build physical activity in your everyday life.”
Millions of people fall prey to death due to years of sedentary behaviors across the globe. Contributing greatly to cardiovascular-related deaths, the sedentary behaviors are warranted to be changed by healthier lifestyles which involve moderate physical exercise. In this regard, public health authorities and employers will have to come up with interventions that help people adopt better, healthier and active way of living.