A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has revealed how much exercise is needed to make up for a whole day of sitting.

Up to 40 minutes of “moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity” every day is the right amount to balance 10 hours of sitting, says the research, reported in Science Alert, although any amount of exercise or even just standing helps to some extent.

The study is based on a meta-analysis of nine previous studies, involving a total of 44,370 people in four different countries who used some type of exercise tracker.

The analysis revealed that the risk of death among people with a more sedentary lifestyle increased as the time spent on moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity decreased.

“In active individuals who engage in 30 to 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity, the association between high sedentary time and risk of death is not significantly different from those with a low amount of sedentary time,” the study says.

What is reliable about this particular research is that it was based on relatively objective data from handheld devices, not self-reported data from participants.

The study comes in conjunction with the publication of the World Health Organization’s 2020 Global Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior, which were developed by 40 scientists from six continents.

“These guidelines are very timely, given that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, which has confined people indoors for long periods and encouraged an increase in sedentary behavior,” says physical activity and population health researcher Emmanuel Stamatakis of the University of Sydney, Australia, and co-editor of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“People can still protect their health and offset the harmful effects of physical inactivity,” he adds.

Research based on physical activity trackers is in line with new WHO guidelines, which recommend 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity each week to counteract sedentary behavior.

Examples of activity include taking the stairs instead of the elevator, playing with children and pets, doing yoga or dancing, doing household chores, walking, or riding a bicycle.

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