Regular exercise helps counteract the harmful health effects of too much sitting, a new British study suggests.
“This research is significant because it demonstrates yet again why physical activity and exercise is so important. It shows that people who spend large amounts of time not moving, either through work, leisure or lifestyle, can counteract some of the negative effects of sedentary behavior by regularly exercising,” study co-author Kishan Bakrania, a University of Leicester researcher, said in a university news release.
Researchers analyzed data from a 2008 national health survey of adults in England. They grouped people according to their levels of physical activity and sitting time.
Adults who sat a lot and didn’t get any exercise had more heart disease and diabetes risk factors than those who spent a lot of time sitting but got regular exercise, the researchers said.
They also found that people who spent less time sitting had higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, even if they didn’t get regular exercise.
“By suggesting that being physically active may offset some of the deleterious consequences of routinely engaging in high levels of sedentary behavior, this study further emphasizes the importance of physical activity in the promotion and maintenance of health,” said lead researcher Thomas Yates, from the Leicester Diabetes Centre and the University of Leicester.
However, this was a so-called observational study and further research is needed to confirm these findings, he added.
The study was published online recently in the journal BMC Public Health.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to physical activity.