The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, asked 149,077 men and women to fill out a questionnaire about their physical activity over the course of 8.9 years. And they found that those who were constantly sitting without moving were at a higher risk of cardiovascular mortality. In other words, if the participants were sitting for six or more hours per day and were getting less than 150 minutes a week of exercise, they were at a higher risk of dying of a heart attack.
But it wasn't all bad news. Researchers discovered that those who exercised for roughly 150 to 200 minutes per week countered those cardiovascular risks to some degree. But the risks were "all but erased," according to MedScape, for participants who engaged in at least 300 minutes of physical exercise per week, which nets out to roughly 45 minutes per day. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 to 300 minutes per week of "moderate intensity exercise" for adults, so if you're spending the majority of your waking hours perched on your peach, you'll want to be on the higher end of that spectrum to counteract the effects.
"It'd be safe to say that each of our clients sit too often," say Eric Johnson, co-founder of fitness company Homage. "That includes ourselves, even though we average 15,000 steps a day. It's difficult to put a hard number on how many minutes [of exercise] is needed to reverse the negative effects of sitting—more exercise is not necessarily better if you can't recover from the physical activity." That part is true—a proper recovery routine is key for a healthy fitness regimen.
That said, Ryan Johnson, the other co-founder of Homage, agrees that 45 minutes a day is "definitely a great place to start," and notes that people should pay attention to how they generally feel with that amount of movement. He also says it's important to take into account other stressors in your life and make adjustments accordingly. "For some, a better approach may be 60 minutes per 5 days a week," says Johnson. Also, quality is a factor to consider over quantity. "What may be more important is what you do with that 45 or 60 minutes," he says. The lesson here? Try to sit less and move (a lot) more. Sorry, desk chair.
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