New Research Demonstrates Increased Need to Break the Sedentary Cycle
by Sara Chow
Get up! Really, you need to stop sitting around all day. Spending hours at a desk all day and leaving exercise to the evening isn’t enough, according to a recent research study. Our sedentary lifestyles need to change.
Adults between 18 and 64 years should get 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every week. The new research means that even those who meet the recommended physical activity guidelines may still be at risk if they are sedentary.
When talking about physical activity, the terms sedentary and physical inactivity are often used interchangeably, meaning ‘not active enough’; but they are different! We are physically inactive when we don’t meet the physical activity recommendations. We are sedentary when we’re awake, but not moving around – basically any time we are sitting or lying down. The difference is key to this research because it means you can be a physically active person but also sedentary.
We don’t need to re-establish that sedentary behaviour is common (in fact, you are probably sitting reading this, just like I am sitting to write it). We also know that being sedentary is associated with increased risks for several chronic diseases. What researchers wanted to know was if someone is physically active enough, could they mitigate or eliminate the detrimental health effects of daily sitting time?
For the majority of us, the answer to this question is ‘no’. The researchers found that increased sitting time is associated with increased all-cause mortality. The only way to mitigate all that sitting is be physically active for 60 to 75 minutes per day at moderate intensity level. Since the most recent Canadian Health Measures Survey reported that 85% of Canadian adults aren’t meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines, we really need to step up our game!
Break the sedentary cycle! Move throughout the day to limit the amount of time that you are sedentary. Take your coffee breaks outdoors or up and down the hallway, or stand in the break room instead of sitting. Get green! Incorporate active transportation into your spring and summer routines. Go for a walk downtown with your friend instead of texting them all evening from your couch. Whatever it is you choose to change, remember to move more.
Reference: Ekelund, U. Steene-Johannessen, J., Brown, W.J. et al. “Does physical activity attenuate, or even eliminate, the detrimental association of sitting time with mortality? A harmonised meta-analysis of data from more than 1 million men and women.” The Lancet. 388. September 24, 2016.