A sedentary lifestyle can kill, but an hour of exercise a day may help counteract the damage done by long periods of sitting, according to Norwegian researchers who sifted through 16 previous studies of the sitting habits of more than a million people.
Scientists at the Norwegian School of Sports Science in Oslo found that people who exercise 60 to 75 minutes daily are not at an increased health risk if they are sitting more than eight hours a day, reported Live Science on the study published in the science journal The Lancet.
Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative, told the Los Angeles Times in 2014 that he believed that sitting for long periods could be worse than smoking, and linked it various ailments, including obesity.
The new study said the daily workout does come with a caveat.
"High levels of moderate intensity physical activity … seem to eliminate the increased risk of death associated with high sitting time," noted the study. "However, this high activity level attenuates, but does not eliminate the increased risk associated with high TV-viewing time.
"These results provide further evidence on the benefits of physical activity, particularly in societies where increasing numbers of people have to sit for long hours for work and may also inform future public health recommendations."
The researchers analyzed information from more than a million healthy people who participated in 16 studies conducted in eight countries – Canada, the United States, Australia, Spain, Denmark, Norway, the United Kingdom and Japan, noted Live Science.
The participants – mostly age 45 and over – were followed from two to 18 years by researchers. Some 84,600 died during the study period.
"There has been a lot of concern about the health risks associated with today's more sedentary lifestyles," said study co-author Ulf Ekelund. "Our message is a positive one: it is possible to reduce — or even eliminate — these risks if we are active enough."
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention already recommends that adults spend two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, such as brisk walking, and two or more days of muscle-stretching activities to all major muscle groups.
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