While much in life can feel complicated, two new studies and a New York Times report offer some simple guidance for improving one’s healthy outcomes: Walk for two minutes and turn off the television.
Of course, it’s not quite that simple. But as the New York Times states: “As most of us have heard by now, long bouts of sitting can increase someone’s risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity, kidney problems and premature death. These risks remain elevated even if someone exercises but then spends most of the rest of his or her waking hours in a chair.”
One new study comes from researchers at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, titled “Light-Intensity Physical Activities and Mortality in the United States General Population and CKD Subpopulation.” They conducted “observational analysis of the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey examined the associations of low- and light-intensity activities with mortality.”
According to the New York Times:
“What they found was unexpected. A low-intensity activity like standing, by itself, had little effect on mortality risk… But those who walked around after standing, replacing some of their sitting time with a light-intensity activity like strolling, gained a substantial benefit in terms of mortality risk.” Even two minutes of gentle walking was associated with lower premature death rates (key: the study notes association, not causality).
And then there’s the television.
Another study to be published in Diabetologia :
“The impact of lifestyle intervention on sedentary time in individuals at high risk of diabetes” — found, according to the New York Times, “that every hour that overweight adults spent watching television, which is a handy way to measure sitting time at home, increased their risk of becoming diabetic by 3.4 percent. Most of the participants were watching nearly three hours a day.”
The study concluded: “Individuals with lower levels of sedentary time had a lower risk of developing diabetes. Future lifestyle intervention programmes should emphasise reducing television watching and other sedentary behaviours in addition to increasing physical activity.”