Get Up and Move for at Least Two Minutes Every Hour

By Dan Peterson, TeamSnap's Sports Science Expert


Sitting. It’s just as bad for kids as it is for parents. Sitting in a classroom or in an office chair for hours every day is becoming the focus of lots of medical research trying to improve our health. Students may get an hour of exercise during the day through recess and/or gym class. Parents may get out for a run or a workout that usually lasts less than an hour. However, scientists at the University of Utah School of Medicine have found that simply standing up every hour isn’t enough to offset the ill effects of sitting most of the day.

Of course, the recommended minimum amount of exercise is 2.5 hours per week in the moderate to vigorous category. But 80 percent of us don’t get to that minimum and still sit for most of our waking hours. Early research suggested that if we just got up and stretched for a few minutes every hour, we could counteract some of that sedentary life.

Srinivasan Beddhu, M.D., professor of internal medicine at Utah, wanted to check that assumption to see if that was enough. He dug into the data from a longitudinal study of 3,243 participants of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. These volunteers wore accelerometers constantly to track their movement through the day. Then, these activity levels were compared to their death rates over three years after the data was collected.

Interestingly, he found no benefit (reduced death rate) from just reducing sitting for two minutes per hour. However, if the volunteers used those two minutes to go for a walk, they had a 33% lower risk of dying. Students could do some jumping jacks next to their desks. Parents could take a lap down the hallway at their office. Just get the body and blood moving.

The study has been published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

"It was fascinating to see the results because the current national focus is on moderate or vigorous activity. To see that light activity had an association with lower mortality is intriguing," said Dr. Beedhu.

It seems small but two minutes every hour really adds up over a week. Given a 16 hour day, that’s 32 minutes of moving around each day, burning 400 kcal each week. Throw in an extra walk or two on the weekend and we begin to approach the recommended minimum activity level.

"Based on these results we would recommend adding two minutes of walking each hour in combination with normal activities, which should include 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week," said Dr. Beedhu.

So, give it a try and encourage your school teachers to add it to your kids’ day. Small steps every hour can add up to big health benefits throughout a lifetime.

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Dan Peterson is a recovering sports dad who is fascinated with sports science research, skill development and the athlete’s brain. He has written over 400 science-based articles across the Web and consults with parents, coaches and young players to help them understand the cognitive side of sports. You can visit him at Sports Are 80 Percent Mental and at @DanielPeterson.

Release Date: Jun 08 2015

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