Moving your body has been proven to lower your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and other health problems. And likewise, the amount of time you spend being sedentary each day raises these risks.
But according to an American Cancer Society study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, you can help reverse the risks of being sedentary. Physically inactive adults who replaced 30 minutes of sitting each day with physical activity of any intensity showed a nearly 50 percent reduction in premature death risk, the study authors say.
The researchers analyzed self-reported sitting time, light physical activity, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in more than 92,000 participants in the long-term Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort, which has been ongoing for 14 years. For adults who were least active at the start of the study (exercising for less than 17 minutes a day), 30 minutes of light physical activity instead of sitting cut their risk of early death by 14 percent. Those who replaced 30 minutes of sitting each day with moderate or vigorous activity showed a 45 percent lower risk.
The researchers also noted modest improvements in those who were moderately active already — 6 percent for those who added 30 minutes of light activity and 17 percent for those who added moderate-to-vigorous exercise. In the most physically active group at the start of the study — people who got more than 38 minutes a day of moderate or vigorous exercise — replacing 30 minutes of sitting with activity didn’t provide any additional benefit.