If you fear you’re doing irreparable damage to your body because your white-collar job keeps you sitting at your desk from 9 to 5, or you regularly spend entire weekends sprawled out on your couch binge-watching Netflix, there’s some good news just out from sports medicine researchers.
According to a study published in the Lancet, all is not lost. You may be able to make up for your increased risk of death due to a sedentary lifestyle by engaging in enough physical activity.
So just how much is enough? The first thing you need to know is that it’s not a fixed number but based on a ratio that depends on the amount of sitting you do daily. If you sit four hours a day, you need to do at least 30 minutes of exercise. An eight-hour work day of sitting means one hour of exercise.
The numbers come from an analysis based on a very large pool of people, about 1 million adults, 45 and older, from the United States, Western Europe and Australia. The findings show a risk reduction — or even elimination — for your risk of death from heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
A big part of the problem is the outmoded pattern of knowledge workers commuting from their home communities to an office located in another distant community. Doing that every weekday adds to the time spent sitting given most commute by vehicle rather than cycling or walking.
There’s a better model that promotes wellness by freeing up as much as an hour or two every day for more exercise: migrating out of centralized commuter offices and having knowledge workers work in the communities where they live in home offices or satellite co-working centers. It is there rather than the office where that hour or two of daily exercise to offset sitting is more accessible and more easily adopted as a lifestyle change.