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Want healthier employees? Encourage more movement, less sitting


It's no news that sitting all day is bad for health. With a majority of Malaysians spending at least six hours a day sitting at their desk at work, it's little wonder that the cost of healthcare benefits is rising.

Thankfully, a new study led by researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center found that swapping just 30 minutes of sedentary time with activity - regardless of intensity - makes for better health and lowers the risk of early death.

The study included around 8,000 adults aged 45 and older who took part in a national investigation of racial and regional disparities in stroke between 2009 and 2013. These adults wore activity monitors for at least four days to record the amount and intensity of physical activity they engaged in while awake.

Researchers then tabulated the death rate among participants through 2017 and used the data to estimate how substituting time spent sitting with time being physically active would affect risk of early death.

It found that replacing just 30 minutes of sitting with low-intensity physical activity lowers the risk of early death by 17% while substituting it for moderate to vigorous activity cuts the risk of early death by 35%.

Researchers revealed that short bursts of activity (of just a minute or two) also provided a health benefit.

Keith Diaz, PhD, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and lead author of the paper, said: "If you have a job or lifestyle that involves a lot of sitting, you can lower your risk of early death by moving more often, for as long as you want and as your ability allows - whether that means taking an hour-long high-intensity spin class or choosing lower-intensity activities, like walking."

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