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Office workers must exercise for an hour a day in order to not drop dead

No one wants to be sitting in an office all day, yet that's where many of us find ourselves, day in, day out. After all, those bills won't pay themselves.

Deep down, we all know that being chained to the desk can't be good for us - with our muscles short of exercise and the lack of fresh air hurting our lungs (not to mention our mental wellbeing).

So there's good and bad news. Bad? Sedentary jobs are definitely bad for us. Good? There is something we can do about it.

A new paper published in the Lancet, which analysed data from 16 previous studies, shows that one hour of physical daily activity eliminates the increased risk of death associated with sitting down for eight hours a day - and it doesn't need to be high-energy activity.

Cambridge University's Professor Ulf Ekelund, the lead author of the paper said, “You don’t need to do sport, you don’t need to go to the gym. It’s OK doing some brisk walking, maybe in the morning, during lunchtime, after dinner in the evening. You can split it up over the day, but you need to do at least one hour.”

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The World Health Organisation (WHO guideline) recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week, but the new paper suggests that an hour a day - of 'moderate intensity' exercise, such as walking at 5.6 km/h or cycling at a leisurely 16 km/h - is what is really required to ward off the grim reaper. Studies show that the risk of death for those who sit down for eight hours a day and engage in little exercise, compared to those who sit for four hours and were active for a day, is 3.1 per cent higher within 20 years.

Ekelund accepted that this level of activity is not always that practical, but commented, “It’s not easy to do one hour of physical activity a day but... the average TV viewing time in adults in the UK today is 3hrs 6mins or something like that, more than three hours. I don’t know if it’s too much to ask that just a little bit of those three hours may be devoted to physical activity.”

He also suggested that a five minute break at work every hour would be beneficial - to both workers' health and employers, as their human assets will not be as productive overall as they could be.

And, at the end of the day, if they're dead, they're not going to be doing much producing at all, are they?

(Image: iStock)