With all of the latest research showing that no amount of exercise can combat the side effects of being sedentary, a lot of us have been left without answers. Should we try for a more active job? Should we give up exercising?
But never fear, desk workers. It turns out that exercising does combat most effects of sitting, even if it’s not as effective as living a completely active life.
Researchers from the University of Leicester performed a cross-sectional analysis of the England Health Survey. What they found was that being physically active regardless of time spent sedentary resulted in a positive health profile. This included a lower BMI and more HDL-cholesterol — the good cholesterol.
Surprisingly, researchers also found that having a low sedentary time regardless of physical activity was associated with higher HDL-cholesterol. This indicates that standing and doing light exercise rather than sitting all day can improve your health, even if you don’t do any other vigorous physical activity.
But for the couch potatoes, the news isn’t good. Living a life low in exercise and high in sitting is associated with a whole range of health issues including diabetes cardiovascular disease, heart disease and obesity.
So what’s the solution? For the desk workers, exercise can help, even if it’s before or after a full day of sitting behind the screen. How long and at what intensity is what works best for you, so try a few different things – hit up some gym classes at lunch time, or just go for a long walk in the afternoon.
Some studies also recommend getting up for a 5 minute walk every hour to combat the effects of sitting. This increases your muscle activity and blood flow, which can make you feel more awake and less stiff in the chair.