The positive benefits of regular exercise are well documented. Conversely, the negative effects of too much inactivity have been shown to cause of myriad of health issues such as sarcopenia, metabolic syndrome and pre-diabetes. Research has now shown the benefits of exercise can be negated if you’re sitting too much throughout the day. Finding the time to add more activity into your day, beyond what you may do for exercise, is critical. “Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure.” Exercise is considered a subcategory of physical activity. Exercise is physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and has a purpose.
Let’s say a typical 24-hour day breaks down like this: eight hours are needed for work, another eight hours are required for sleep and the remaining eight hours is free time. Let’s take a closer look at the sixteen hours in each day needed for work and used for free time or leisure. Let’s say one hour is used for exercise, that leaves us with eight hours for our job and seven hours of free time. It’s important to understand, in order to improve various health outcomes, you need to start moving more during those remaining fifteen hours. According to researcher Clyde Wilson, Phd:
“It is not news that exercise reduces disease risk, and may add to one’s longevity by a decade or more. But “movement,” which is less intense and performed regularly throughout the day and the lifespan, is correlated to potential longevity beyond that achieved by exercise. Lack of movement, on the other hand, creates a “super-relaxed state” of muscle that reduces the metabolic rate dramatically and creates profound negative implications for disease risk and mortality. These findings indicate that movement would be more important for overall lifespan than exercise, but that exercise would be an important way to compensate for a lifestyle requiring most hours of your day to be sedentary (such as working at a computer).”
What you do the rest of the day, following your exercise session, is critical and can make an impact on longevity. It looks like the key take away is to continue to exercise but work on building in more time for activity throughout your day.
A new study, published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, suggest that walking just two additional minutes each hour could offset the hazards of sitting too much. According to lead investigator, Tom Greene, PhD:
“Exercise is great, but the reality is that the practical amount of vigorous exercise that can be achieved is limited. Our study suggests that even small changes can have a big impact.”
You may have the exercise component down but you just feel like your body needs more to really change the way you look and feel. Increasing your activity level throughout your workday and during your leisure time could be just what the doctor ordered.
Bedbhu S, Wei G, Marcus R, Chonchol M, Greene T. Light-intensity physical activity and mortality in the United States general population and CKD subpopulation. CJASN, 2015 DOI: 10.2215/%u200BCJN.08410814
Physical Activity, Exercise, and Physical Fitness: Definitions and Distinctions for Health-Related Research. Caspersen C, Powell K, Christenson G.