Today, a new study found that replacing even a small amount of that sedentary time with some physical activity could reduce early death for people of all weights and waist sizes. A growing body of research is linking sedentary behavior to cancer risk.
The new analysis, published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, used data from over 334,000 people in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer Nutrition (EPIC) study to determine if overweight, obesity or large waist size would affect whether reducing sedentary behavior improves survival.
The investigators compared rates of mortality over twelve years, between four levels of physical activity (inactive, moderately inactive, moderately active and active) and categorized by BMI and waist size.
Using the inactive group as the comparison group, they calculated that just being moderately active would theoretically reduce the number of deaths by about 7 percent, about double that of avoiding obesity.
They found that for all groups, the most reduced risk in death was between the inactive and moderately active groups. For the groups who were overweight, obese and had large waists, a large reduced risk was also seen between the inactive and moderately inactive.
The authors estimated that to move from inactive from moderately active, an inactive person would need to walk briskly about 20 minutes a day, equal to increasing the calories they burn by about 90-110.
This study adds to the evidence on sedentary behavior and health risks, showing that making modest changes in how much you move can have a significant impact on your health. For cancer prevention, AICR recommends getting at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day, and limiting sedentary time.
You can put this idea into action by signing up for our New American Plate Challenge – a 12-week program to help you move more, eat smart and move toward a healthier weight.
Read more about EPIC and its funding.