Can 20 Minutes of Exercise Offset the Harms of Sitting?

People who have no choice but to sit at a desk for hours on end may have seen, in recent years, a slew of headlines about the scary consequences of sitting for long periods of time — and how even regular exercise couldn’t undo the damage. Research published Tuesday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, however, finds that about 22 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous activity may provide an antidote to the ills of prolonged sitting. What’s more, the researchers found that, as a person’s activity level increases, the risk of dying prematurely from any cause goes down. 

The study found that the current recommendation of 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous activity “is enough to counteract the detrimental health effect of prolonged sitting,” said the study’s lead author, Edvard Sagelv, a researcher at The Arctic University of Norway. “This is the beautiful part: we are talking about activities that make you breathe a little bit heavier, like brisk walking, or gardening or walking up a hill.”

While 150 minutes may seem like a lot, Sagelv broke it down into manageable terms. “Think of it: only 20 minutes of this a day is enough, meaning, a small stroll of 10 minutes twice a day — like jumping off the bus one stop before your actual destination to work and then when taking the bus back home, jumping off one stop before,” he said in an email.

Excerpted from NBC News

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