Light Daily Activities May Increase Lifespan Of People Who Sit All Day

A new study from the American Cancer Society found that even short duration, low-intensity daily exercise may increase the lifespan of couch potatoes. The study involved tens of thousands of people and concluded that getting some exercise — even if it's as simple as light walking for 30 minutes — can mitigate some of the health dangers associated with sitting all day.

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The study followed nearly 55,000 women and 38,000 men from 1999 to 2014 and found that sedentary people who replaced 30 minutes of sitting with light exercise daily had a 14-percent lower chance of dying during the duration of the study. In this case, sedentary means people who got 17 minutes or less of "moderate-to-vigorous" exercise daily.

Though light exercise was associated with positive increases in lifespan, the study did find that moderate-to-vigorous exercise (rather than light activity) for 30 minutes daily reduced the death risk by 45-percent. However, the study didn't find any longevity benefit among people who performed moderate-to-vigorous exercise for more than 38 minutes a day.

As a result of the findings, the study concluded that adults who getting at least a little bit of light exercise daily may live longer than people who spend that time being sedentary. Light activity doesn't require much effort — it includes things like gardening, folding laundry while watching TV, taking short walks throughout the day, and similar activities.

Past research has linked a lack of physical activity with increased risk of developing cancer and other serious health problems. The body of evidence grows amid a society where being sedentary for most of the day is inevitable for some people, including those with desk jobs and long commutes.