Like many of us, I follow the CDC’s guideline to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. I spend my time walking my dog, following a workout routine on YouTube, or riding a stationary bike, and I always feel better when I’m done. However, I can’t help but wonder if that half hour really makes up for all the time I’m sitting. My hips, back, and shoulders still hurt after a long day at work, and my hip flexors are tight.
Curious, I dove into research and found the short answer: 30 minutes of daily exercise does not cancel an entire sitting day. Still, adding more movement to your daily routine can help counter the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
What the research says about sitting
We already know that sitting for long periods of time is not good for us. Doctors and physical therapists note that it causes poor circulation and can weaken your big legs and gluteal muscles. If you’re over 50, weakened leg muscles make you more likely to fall and injure yourself, and sitting for long periods of time can shorten your hip flexors, which can lead to problems with your hips. hip joints. Additionally, poor posture can cause the discs in your spine to over-compress and accelerate their degeneration. But how does a sedentary lifestyle affect your longevity?
Many researches confirm that sitting for long periods of time is harmful to our long-term health. A recent study published in JAMA Cardiology which followed more than 100,000 participants found that sitting for eight hours or more a day was correlated with a higher risk of death and cardiovascular disease. In contrast, sitting for less than four hours a day and exercising daily significantly reduced these risks.
Another study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2021 examined the benefits of 30 minutes of daily exercise. After following more than 130,000 participants for about 14 years, researchers learned that half an hour of exercise lowered the risk of death by up to 80% in people who spent less than seven hours sitting. However, 30 minutes of exercise had less positive effect on those who spent seven to 11 hours sitting, and it had no positive effect on people who spent more than 11 hours sitting.
So if you spend less than seven hours a day sitting, 30 minutes of exercise might be enough. But the more sedentary hours you spend, the more physical activity you’ll need to counter that sitting time.
How much exercise you need
Here’s what the researchers recommend: If you have to work eight hours a day at a desk, you should get about an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day. When you’re not working, don’t sit and watch TV or scroll your phone! Instead, do two to four hours of light activity before and after work.
Here are some ways to boost your business:
- Invest in a treadmill and put it in the TV room, so you can walk around while watching your favorite shows.
- Take your pup for a longer walk each morning or do some housework before work.
- After completing a project or a large task, take five or 10 minutes to stretch or do some squats. (Taking five minutes every hour to stretch is also helpful, but many people find it difficult to maintain because it breaks their concentration.)
- While cooking dinner, use the cooking time to do a quick cooking workout.
- Invest in a standing desk. Standing isn’t as beneficial as walking and can lead to foot pain without the right shoes, but it will help work on your balance and posture.
On weekends, devote more time to physical activity. Take longer walks and, if you can, pick up your pace for about 20 minutes. If walking isn’t your thing, sign up for a weekend dance, yoga, or water aerobics class. The more you move your body, the greater your investment will be in your long-term health.