The fitness industry often makes us feel like we need to smash ourselves in the gym for an hour each day in order to be considered healthy. While this is most definitely not the case, a new study has confirmed that just 11 minutes of exercise per day could lessen the effects of sitting on our health.
Using activity monitor data from tens of thousands of people, researchers looked at how inactivity and exercise influence the way we live. Researchers found that those who were the most sedentary faced a high risk of dying young but, according to The New York Times, if they got up and moved, it massively reduced the threat.
Gathering data from nine recent studies, the research included nearly 50,000 middle-aged or older men and women living in the United States or Europe who wore accelerometers. Researchers discovered that many of the participants sat an average of 10 hours per day, with many barely moving and their exercise consisting of just a few minutes of walking per day.
The participants were divided into thirds, based on how often they moved or sat, and researchers found that leading an extremely sedentary life was hazardous, with people in the top third for sitting and bottom third for activity were 260% more likely to die prematurely than the men and women who moved the most and sat the least. These findings took into account other lifestyle factors that could have influenced the results including smoking and body mass.
Researchers found other combinations of time spent both moving and sitting to be hopeful, with those in the middle third for activity — who exercised for roughly 11 minutes per day — were significantly less likely to have died prematurely than people who moved less, even if they belonged to the group who sat the most.
The sweet spot for both movement and longevity seemed to be around 35 minutes of brisk walking which led to the greatest statistical improvement in life span — no matter how many hours someone sat per day.
While this study was observational and thus doesn’t concretely prove that exercise increases longevity, it does link sitting, exercise and mortality. Researchers recommend engaging in 35 minutes of brisk exercise per day in order to live a long and healthy life.