Engaging in daily physical activity of 20 or 25 minutes can reduce the risk of death associated with a highly sedentary lifestyle. This is the finding of an international study published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Furthermore, the results demonstrate that a higher frequency of daily physical activities is linked to a lower risk of mortality, regardless of the amount of time spent sitting each day.

In developed countries, adults typically spend an average of 9-10 hours a day sitting, especially during working hours. “A sedentary lifestyle is associated with an increased risk of death,” explained the researchers. Most previous research on the benefits of physical activity to counteract prolonged sitting has relied on aggregated data, which inevitably results in a generic approach.

To address this issue, scientists pooled data from individual participants in four groups of people equipped with sensors to monitor their level of physical activity. They aimed to investigate whether movement could alter the association between sedentary time and mortality, and vice versa, and to determine the amount of physical activity that could impact the reduction of risk.

Just under 12,000 people aged 50 and above were included in the analysis. They had a minimum of 4 days with 10 hours of daily motion sensor data, were monitored for at least 2 years, and provided details on potential influencing factors: gender, education level, weight, height, smoking history, alcohol intake, and whether they had cardiovascular diseases, cancer, or ongoing diabetes. In total, 5,943 people spent less than 10.5 hours sitting per day, while 6,042 accumulated 10.5 hours or more of sedentary time.

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