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Aug 08, 2014

Sitting Too Much Diminishes Fitness Level

No matter how much you may exercise, sitting for long periods of time reduces fitness, finds study.

No matter how much you may exercise, sitting for long periods of time reduces fitness, according to a study published by the Mayo Clinic.

Designed to clarify how sedentary time impacts fitness level, this study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which uses surveys to assess the health of the general U.S. population. More than 2,200 “healthy” adults participated in the study, completing a survey and providing detailed information about their physical activity levels. Participants underwent a treadmill test to measure their fitness level and wore an accelerometer for seven days to provide information about physical activity and sedentary time.

After analysis, researchers found that the negative effect of sitting for 6-7 hours was similar to the beneficial effect of 1 hour of exercise on fitness. In other words, sedentary time has the opposite effect on fitness as physical activity.

It’s already well-established that fitness is closely associated with health and longevity. The more physically fit individuals are, the more likely they are to live a longer, healthier life. Based on this study, it’s likely that individuals with little physical activity and too much sedentary time have the lowest fitness levels, putting them at increased risk for health problems down the road. Authors believe that by not only increasing physical activity but reducing time spent sitting, individuals can help increase their fitness level and improve overall health.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How much exercise do I need?
  • Regular physical activity is important for both children and adults. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans:

    • Children and adolescents should get 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily.
    • Optimum exercise levels for adults includes:
      • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (or a combination of the two) each week.
      • Activity spread across the week with periods of aerobic exercise of at least 10 minutes at a time.
      • Muscle strengthening activities 2 or more days a week.
  • What is fitness?
  • In general, fitness refers to being physically sound and healthy as a result of regular exercise. There are three kinds of fitness, including aerobic (strengthening the heart and lungs), muscle strengthening (building muscle) and flexibility (stretching the muscles). Finding a balance between the three to achieve the best possible fitness is important for good health.

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Exercising is one of the single best ways to improve and maintain health. Learn more »