Sitting all day long? Sorry, but you need to exercise more than you think

Let’s face it: we’re all guilty of spending too much time sitting, and it’s hardly a healthy habit. Now, a new study has shown that you need even more exercise than you may have previously thought to undo the negative side effects.

Whether it’s at our work desks, at a coffee shop, or at home in front of our TVs, we all spend a lot of time sitting. And yes, in these ‘unprecedented times’ where many of us still haven’t transitioned out of our work from home lifestyles, we’re spending even more time sedentary than usual – I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been stuck in a loop of going from my bed to my desk to the couch and then back to bed almost every day.

As relaxing as it may seem to sit all day, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that this kind of habit isn’t the healthiest for our bodies. But what’s less clear is exactly how bad it is for us – and how much exercise we have to partake in to undo the negative side-effects.

Well, according to Well+Good, a new study has answered those questions, and depending on how much of an exercise fan you are, you may not love the answer.

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What are the risks of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle?

According to the data gathered from the 149,077 people who participated in the study over the course of 8.9 years, those who spend a lot of time sitting without much movement are at a higher risk of cardiovascular mortality.

What does that mean, exactly?

Essentially the study, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that the participants who spent six or more hours per day sitting and less than 150 minutes per week exercising were at a greater risk of dying of a heart attack. Yeesh.

So how much exercise do you have to do to offset sitting all day?

Well unfortunately, if your response is to just sit less and stand more, that’s not going to cut it: researchers found that replacing some of your all-day-long sitting time with standing isn’t quite enough to counteract the negative effects.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, because offsetting your sedentary lifestyle is doable – and sufficient exercise of a “moderate to vigorous intensity” is the key.

The study found that people who exercised for about 150 to 200 minutes per week were able to lower their risks to a degree. Even better, for those who went the extra mile and participated in at least 300 minutes of physical exercise per week (about 45 minutes per day), the risks were “all but erased,” according to MedScape.

What do the experts advise?

According to Eric and Ryan Johnson, the co-founders of fitness company Homage, we’re all guilty of sitting too much – but that doesn’t mean we can’t put in the effort to do something about it.

“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,” Eric told Well+Good.

Ryan agrees with the journal that 45 minutes of exercise per day is “definitely a great place to start,” but also advises that people tailor these specifics to their own lives and needs.

“For some, a better approach may be 60 minutes per five days a week,” he says. “What may be more important is what you do with that 45 or 60 minutes.”

Sounds like it’s time to reboot those 2020 resolutions to work out more – anyone else feeling the sudden urge to go for a run?