Sedentary lifestyle: “smoking of our generation”

Getting up for 2 minutes every hour to go for a walk improves your health in sedentary people by fighting in particular against the harmful effects caused by prolonged sitting. Walking 2 minutes every hour lowered mortality risk by more than 30% among participants in this study. We know that sitting too long greatly increases the risk of mortality.

Physical inactivity, the “smoking of our generation”

Several previous studies have shown that sitting too long each day increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer (especially colorectal cancer). An increased risk of early mortality was also observed.

A few years ago already, the famous economics blog “Harvard Business Review” headlined in an article having had a very great impact: “Sitting is the smoking of our generation.

Indeed, with the increase in jobs in the field of services in our Western societies, health problems should only get worse. Gone are the days when most workers were on their feet, whether on the farm, in the factory or at the grocery store.

A 33%% lower mortality rate with 2 minutes of walking per hour

US researchers from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City examined data from 3,626 participants. The latter wore a device measuring physical activities throughout the day, giving the researchers information on the physical activity of all these participants.

The follow-up of the participants lasted 3 years and at the end of this follow-up 137 people died. The researchers observed that participants who got up to walk for an average of 2 minutes per hour had a 33% lower mortality rate than the general population. For those who suffered from chronic kidney disease, the fall in mortality was even 41%.

This study was published in the journal “Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology”.

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Even small changes…

Exercising is great, but the reality is that intense exercise is often difficult. This study shows that even small changes can have a big impact.

150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per week

It is recommended by the WHO to perform at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. That is to say walking at a brisk pace a little more than 20 minutes each day or 40 minutes every 2 days or even jogging at a high pace of 2 times 40 minutes per week. These recommendations for good health should be maintained. What this study shows is that to counterbalance the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle (sitting too long), it is also advisable to get up for 2 minutes every hour and go for a walk. Of course working standing up would be even better, but as we will see below, this is not always possible for reasons of cost and perhaps also comfort.

Modular offices

More and more companies, especially in the technological field, offer their employees a modular office allowing them to work standing up. In other words, these desks can go up and down so that the person can work while sitting or standing. Unfortunately, these offices are often expensive. If you are still like the majority of workers with a normal desk and a simple chair, remember to get up every hour and walk for 2 minutes to drink a little water, for example, another excellent tip for your health. Then you’ll probably need to go to the toilet, another opportunity to walk the next hour.

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A practical tip

Use a timer (on your phone or computer) if you don’t want to be looking at your watch all the time. Set a ringtone to go off every 58 minutes and forget about it. When the bell rings, get up and walk around for 2 minutes.


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