Office workers who spend a minimum of eight hours a day at their desk should exercise for at least an hour a day to lower their risk of developing diseases, says a new study.
A five-minute break every hour and exercising during lunch hour and tea breaks would be beneficial. The current recommended health advice is just half this level of activity. But almost half of the women and one-third of men fail to achieve even this.
‘Going for a brisk walk in the morning for at least an hour and taking a five-minute break every hour at work can reduce the risk of early mortality.
Professor Ulf Ekelund, the lead scientist, from Cambridge University and the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, said, "We found that at least one hour of physical activity per day, for example, brisk walking or cycling, eliminates the association between sitting time and death."
"You don't need to do sport; you don't need to go to the gym, it's OK doing some brisk walking maybe in the morning, during your lunchtime, after dinner in the evening. You can split it up over the day but you need to do at least one hour," he added.
The typical daily routine of spending a day in front of the computer, followed by an evening in front of the television is proving fatal, said the researchers.
Government policies should change and encourage healthier habits. For example, placing bus stops further apart to force people walk for longer, and opening free public gyms in parks.
Office workers, especially commuters are more likely to find it hard to avoid long periods of being seated. But they should take an effort to break up their day with short walks, said the researchers.
"Take a five-minute break every hour, go to the next office, go upstairs to the coffee machine, go to the printer. Build physical activity into your everyday life," said Prof Ekelund.
The study involved participants over the age of 45. They were classed by their levels of physical activity from five minutes a day to more than an hour by the amount of time spent seated.
The activity level was compared with death rates over a period of up to 18 years among the adults from Western Europe, Australia, and the United States. The mortality rates were 9.9% for those who sat at least eight hours a day and managed less than five minutes of activity.
The death rates dropped to 6.2 % for those who spent long hours seated but managed at least one hour of exercise. Cancer and heart disease were the two most likely causes of death linked to inactivity.
The death risk was linked to television viewing for more than three hours a day. More than 5 million deaths a year are linked to physical inactivity.