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Moderate daily physical activity offsets death risk from prolonged sitting

Written by | 26 Oct 2023 | Sport & Exercise

Only 20-25 minutes of moderate-to vigorous-physical activity every day may offset the heightened risk of death from a sedentary lifestyle, researchers reported Oct. 24, 2023 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a publication of the British Journal of Medicine/BMJ.

Notably, higher levels of physical activity correlated to a lower risk of death, regardless of the amount of seated time daily,

The investigators gathered and combined data from four groups of subjects who had been fitted with activity trackers (accelerometry) to provide information on daily physically active time and sedentary time.

They data was collected between 2003 and 2019 from the Norwegian Tromsø Study 2015–16, the Swedish Healthy Ageing Initiative (HAI) 2012–19, the Norwegian National Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS) 2008– 09, and the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003–06.

The objective of the new analysis was, “To examine whether moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) modifies the association between sedentary time and mortality and vice versa, and estimate the joint associations of MVPA and sedentary time on mortality risk,” the authors said

There were 11,989 subjects in the study, all over 50 years-old and 50.5% women.

The investigators used standard statistical tools to evaluate the data, and they adjusted for sex, education, body mass index, smoking, alcohol, study cohort, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and/ or diabetes, accelerometry wear time and age.

They reported that 6.7% (n=805) died during follow-up (median 5.2 years).

The tracker data indicated that being sedentary for more than 12 hours a day was associated with a 38% increased risk of death when compared with of 8 hours of daily sedentary time.

But, notably, this heightened risk of death was only among subjects who undertook less than 22 daily minutes daily of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

“Higher MVPA levels were associated with lower mortality risk irrespective of the amount of sedentary time,” the authors said.

The researchers concluded, “Small amounts of MVPA [moderate to vigorous physical activity] may be an effective strategy to ameliorate the mortality risk from high sedentary time, where accumulating more than 22 mins of MVPA eliminates the risk of high sedentary time.

“Efforts to promote physical activity may have substantial health benefits for individuals,” they added.

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