Amazingly, research has shown that a five-minute wander every half hour is more important when it comes to fending off diabetes than regular gym attendance.
The report, which reviewed many other studies, showed that those who sat the most had a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and death than those who sat the least.
This sounds obvious when phased like this. But in our everyday lives, most of us think that our health is down to the effort we put in at the gym – forgetting about what we do for the rest of the day, too.
In fact, according to a YouGov poll, a quarter of British adults now walk for less than nine minutes a day – including time spent getting to the car, work and the shops – that’s less than an hour every week. While nine out of 10 Britons agree that walking is a good form of exercise which can keep you healthy, most are not doing so nearly enough.
Almost half of people surveyed walk for two hours or less a week – meaning they are not doing enough walking to stay healthy. Chief medical officers recommend that adults do 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, like walking, per week, but 43 per cent of people surveyed walk for 120 minutes or less.
Dr Emma Wilmot, head of the study, said:
“If a worker sits at their desk all day then goes to the gym, while their colleague heads home to watch TV, then the gym-goer will have better health outcomes. But there is still a health risk because of the amount of sitting they do.
People convince themselves they are living a healthy lifestyle, doing their 30 minutes of exercise a day. But they need to think about the other 23.5 hours.”
I’ve spoken about NEAT before; this is more evidence of the same issue from the opposing angle. Those who move more throughout the entire day are healthier.
So stand up for your meetings. Walk during lunch. Get up to drink another water, then get up again to go to the loo. Take ‘mini breaks’ from your desk. Run errands. Take part in hobbies that don’t include sitting down in the evening. Switch off the telly.
It’s looking even more important to your health than before.
- New York Times | Stand up while you read this!
- BBC News | Sitting for long periods ‘is bad for your health’
- Telegraph | Desk-breaks ‘more important than gym’ to avoid diabetes
- Hive Health | Could Desk Breaks Provide an Office Health Breakthrough?
- Independent | One small step… Inactivity is world’s fourth-biggest killer
- Science Daily | Sitting for protracted periods increases risk of diabetes, heart disease and death