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Activity … every 30 minutes!

Everyday modern life is becoming increasingly characterized by our lack of physical activity. Many people spend their entire working day doing sedentary activities, while driving cars to get around and remaining inactive in their free time. The human body, however, is not adapted to a low-activity lifestyle, which can lead to health problems in the medium to long term.

In particular, the occurrence of civilization diseases such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular illnesses, is influenced to a large extent by lifestyle. A US study carried out between 2009 and 2013, determined the daily activity of around 8,000 subjects using fitness trackers. The analysis showed that on average the subjects were physically inactive for 12 of their 16 waking hours. Along with the total length of physical inactivity, the length of the participants’ individual periods of inactivity over the course of the waking day were also measured. On average, the phases in which no activity was recorded, were more than 11 minutes.

The two measured values were compared with the general risk of death. While still taking into account other risk factors such as age, gender, obesity and high blood pressure, there was a correlation between the duration of total inactivity and the individual phases of inactivity, and mortality. It was shown that this relationship also existed with physically active subjects. The comparison between the lengths of physical inactivity showed that people who were inactive for an average of more than 13 hours a day, had double the risk of mortality than those who were inactive for around 11 hours. There was a similar interaction with the average duration of the phases of inactivity. With increasing length, the mortality risk increased. For a duration of more than 12 minutes, the risk was almost twice as high as for 7 minutes. However, it could not be ascertained which of the two factors has a greater effect on health.

Although the study had some limitations, it was able to show that physical inactivity is a significant risk to health. Inactivity encourages overweight and obesity, and together with other factors it can increase the risk of consequent illnesses. The researchers of the study recommend integrating more regular activity into your professional and private life, and to consciously reduce physical inactivity. If your professional life is predominantly seated, you should regularly stand up and walk around at least every 30 minutes. Overall, the more often and intense the phases of physical activity are, the better the effect is on your health.

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