If you’re like most Americans, you likely spend a good portion of your day sitting. Unfortunately, staying sedentary is associated with some serious, long-term health effects. What’s more is that experts say that 80 percent of adults in the U.S. do not participate in the two and a half hours a week of moderate activity that’s currently recommended.
New research now suggests that walking for just two minutes every hour could significantly offset the hazards that come with regularly sitting for long periods of time. In a recent University of Utah study, researchers found that trading sitting for light-intensity activities for two minutes each hour was linked with a 33 percent lower mortality risk.
Lead author Srinivasan Beddhu, M.D. says that the idea that light activity might have this effect is fascinating.
“Sitting is the new smoking,” he says. “It increases the risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and premature death.”
Beddhu shares that we all need to have more sedentary awareness—in other words, it’s beneficial to our overall health to be more conscious of how much time we actually spend sitting. In the same vein, taking frequent breaks from sitting at least a couple of times each hour appears to be beneficial.
“When we get up, we should do light-intensity activities such as casual walking, going up a flight of stairs, lift weights, etc.,” he said in an email. “If we perform activity of very low intensity, such as standing, it might not be beneficial.”
More specifically, Beddhu and his team found that the average adult spent about 35 minutes an hour sitting. When two minutes were traded off for standing activities, there was no mortality benefit.