Wether it's working from home or spending too much time watching Netflix, we have all been spending a lot of time inside. But, after a whole year of being confined, we have all wondered just how much exercise we need to offset a whole day of sitting down.
This year has been rough on both our minds and our bodies and there’s no denying that many people’s New Years resolution will be to lose some weight or to just get outside more often.
We can for sure tell you that whether or not you gained a stone or two this year, it’s not a problem, many of us have suffered the same fate so give yourself a break.
But still, many have spent months doing home exercises, running and yogato try to keep a healthy lifestyle balance or shed some pounds. Which begs the question: How much exercise offsets a day of sitting down?
How much exercise do we need after sitting all day?
This year has seen many of us turn our spare rooms, lounges and dining table into home offices and any walking you may have done to get to work, or even any pottering about has probably disappeared for the most part.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that the negative effects of sitting down all day could be mitigated by sufficient exercise.
The recommendation was published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and is now part of the guidelines for exercise and sedentary behaviour.
New research that was also published in the special issue of the Journal has also proved that sufficient exercise can offset the negative effects of sedentary lifestyles.
The co-editor of the special issue, Emmanuel Stamatakis from the University of Sydney did declare while this may be very good news, they still can’t really identify just how much sitting it too much. He stated:
Although the new guidelines reflect the best available science, there are still some gaps in our knowledge. We are still not clear, for example, where exactly the bar for ‘too much sitting’ is. But this is a fast-paced field of research, and we will hopefully have answers in a few years’ time.
He continued to state that the timing of the research is impeccable given the pandemic has driven many of us to walk a total of about 10 steps a day.
These guidelines are very timely, given that we are in the middle of a global pandemic, which has confined people indoors for long periods and encouraged an increase in sedentary behaviour. But people can still protect their health and offset the harmful effects of physical inactivity. As these guidelines emphasise, all physical activity counts and any amount of it is better than none.
There are plenty of indoor options that don’t need a lot of space or equipment, such as climbing the stairs, active play with children or pets, dancing, or online yoga or Pilates classes.
The study conducted involved over 44,000 people from four countries and had a high tally of sedentary time defined as 10 or more hours per day.
This kind of couch potato activity can result in ‘a significantly heightened risk of death, particularly among people who are physically inactive’.
However, the study found that just 30-40 minutes of moderate to ‘vigorous’ physical activity can actually help offset these risks ‘bringing it down to levels associated with very low amounts of sedentary time’.
What is vigorous activity?
But, what can be considered vigorous activity? The term obviously differs from person to person depending on their fitness and overall health levels but the ‘talk test’ is a good way to go. When conducting vigorous exercise one should not be able to say more than a few words without taking a breath. Moderate exercise can be identified if you can talk but not sing.
The WHO highlighted that if you’re one of those who have become very familiar with your four walls then a weekly exercise tally of 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise or 75-100 minutes of vigorous exercise is recommended.
Other key recommendations for adults who may be disabled or dealing with long term conditions include some muscle-strengthening activities at a moderate or intense level at least twice a week.
The guide also highlights that those over 65 should participate in an exercise that helps aid in functional balance and also strength training at a moderate or intense level three days a week in order to reduce the chances of falling and enhance functional capacity.