Standing up and walking around for just two minutes every hour may help you live longer. That’s good news as evidence continues to mount that prolonged sitting shortens longevity and further increases the risk for several chronic conditions that commonly occur with arthritis, including diabetes, kidney problems, obesity and heart disease.
Researchers looked at data from devices that gauge activity levels worn daily for up to a week by 3,626 people in a national health survey. They measured how much time each day participants spent in sedentary and in various low-intensity activities (such as standing) and light-intensity activities (such as walking casually) and moderate to vigorous exercise (such as brisk walking or lifting weights).
Three to four years after the survey, death records of those who had died showed that low-intensity activity didn’t extend lifespan. However, replacing just two minutes every hour of sedentary time with light-intensity activity lowered the risk of premature death by 33%, according to the study, published in the April 2015 Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
“There are very well-documented health benefits of moderate physical activity, and I suspect that principle applies even at the low end of the intensity continuum,” says Russell Pate, PhD, a professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and member of the committee that developed the federal Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. He is not connected with the study.
“Light-intensity activity isn’t likely to provide all the benefits of more intense activity, but I do think people will be better off if they decrease sedentary time,” Pate says.
He advises short, frequent sessions of light activity to break up long stretches of sitting. Light-intensity activities include casual walking (a relaxed stroll) and household chores like dusting, washing dishes or light gardening, Pate says.
But you still need to do your regular exercise routine. Aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise.
Author: Emily Delzell for the Arthritis Foundation
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