If you’re anything like me, there’s a good chance that you spend a lot of time working in front of a computer. Clearly, that’s a lot of sitting in the course of the week, which previous research shows can pose some health risks. A new study says, however, that doing literally any type of physical activity for 30 minutes a day can help lower the health risks associated with sitting too much.
The study, conducted at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, shows that substituting 30 minutes of sitting with any type of physical movement — of any intensity — can seriously help your health. According to a press release on the research, these findings highlight how important it is to engage in some kind of movement every day — and it doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do.
“Our findings underscore an important public health message that physical activity of any intensity provides health benefits," said lead study author Keith Diaz, PhD, an assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
During previous research, Diaz and his team found that adults who sit for an hour or more at a time without moving, are more at risk for health problems than people who sit for similar lengths of time, but get up and move around more often. They also found that people who sit for shorter stretches of time — for less than 30 minutes — had the lowest overall risk for early death and illnesses, according to the press release. Essentially, by taking movement breaks every half-hour when you have to sit a lot, you can help protect your health in a really powerful way.
If remembering to get up from your desk and move a bit every 30 minutes seems daunting, rest assured that the study said that *any* type of movement is helpful, so don’t stress — and no need to overcomplicate the process either. If it helps you, set a Google alert on your phone or computer to remind you to do some movement. Jumping up to do 20 squats, walking laps around your office building, jumping jacks… whatever works. If you feel like it’s just a *tad* embarrassing to flex your moves in front of your office mates, head outside for a quick walk, or try some simple seated stretches or yoga.
You have loads of options when it comes to types of exercise to choose from: Walk your dog for half an hour a day, do a 30 minute yoga flow series, try body weight exercises, or hit the treadmill. CNN reports that, according to Diaz, while moderate-to-vigorous exercise offers the most health protection, low-to-moderate intensity exercise is also beneficial. The key takeaway here is to swap out 30 minutes of sitting for some type of movement. Whether it be walking, tai chi, or your favorite HIIT class, any strides you make towards moving your body more can help.