Standing up at my desk with my laptop on a trestle means I stand for several hours a day. I’m not sure that it does me any good, but tell you what, it’s better than sitting at a desk.
Too much sitting can kill you.
Sitting still for nine-and-a-half hours a day raises the risk of an early death.
Middle-aged and older sedentary people are up to two-and-a-half times more likely to die early, researchers say. And the risk remains even if sitting is broken up with standing and walking.
Housework could come to the rescue. Light activity such as cooking or washing-up could lessen the risk.
People who regularly do any physical activity are about five times less likely to die early than those who don’t do anything.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at physical activity and mortality in nearly 36,400 adults aged 40 and older with an average age of 62.
Their lives were followed for just under six years, during which time 2,149 died.
At the start of the study, activity levels were monitored using devices that track physical movements and were categorised into “light intensity” such as slow walking, “moderate activity” such as brisk walking, vacuuming or mowing the lawn, and “vigorous activity” such as jogging or digging.
Researchers found that any level of physical activity, regardless of intensity, could be linked to a substantially lower risk of early death.
Unsurprisingly, deaths fell steeply as activity increased, then plateaued. And who fared best?
People who did light activity for about five hours a day, or moderate to vigorous activity for 24 minutes a day, displayed the most health benefits.
Here’s the standout warning from the research: there were approximately five times as many deaths among 25% of the least active people compared with the 25% most active.
Researchers also looked at sedentary behaviour and found sitting still for nine-and-a-half hours or more was linked to a higher risk of early death.
The most sedentary people (nearly 10 hours a day sitting) had a whopping 163% higher risk of dying than the least sedentary (seven-and-a-half hours).
Ulf Ekelund, an Oslo-based sports scientist who led the research, said: “Our findings provide clear scientific evidence that higher levels of total physical activity, regardless of intensity, and less sedentary time are associated with lower risk of premature mortality in middle-aged and older people.”