Even simple household chores can counteract the health effects of long sedentary periods

No time to work out? Do household chores instead. A study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise found that even light activities that involves standing, such as folding laundry and washing the dishes, can help reverse the adverse effects of long sedentary periods.

In the study, a team of researchers from Western State Colorado University determined the optimal frequency, intensity, and length of time spent moving to boost cardiometabolic health among middle-age and older adults.

In the study, 13 adults who had at least one cardiometabolic disorder, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar, took part in the study. They participated in exercise programs and took a one-week break in between each program, during which they went back to their normal lifestyles.

In a week, they spent five minutes every hour doing low-to-moderate standing activities, such as folding laundry, washing dishes, or standing while reading. They also did more intense 10-minute bouts of activity every two hours. They also performed other activities, such as getting dressed, working at a desk, and even singing — all of which were done while standing.

The research team discovered that even the five-minute standing activities increased the HDL or good cholesterol levels and triglycerides of the participants. They also observed reductions in blood sugar levels of the participants. The outcomes for the higher intensity activities were similar. However, when the participants stopped the daily standing activities, the health benefits were reversed. This emphasized the importance of maintaining regular exercise.

As the health benefits of the lower- and higher-intensity exercises are about the same, it could be encouraging for people who are trying to exercise regularly. The researchers also suggested that people should find simple ways every day to make exercise a habit for them to steer away from living a sedentary life.

Light activity prolongs life

Another study found light activities to be beneficial. Researchers discovered that even performing light physical activities can prolong the life of older adults, particularly older men. (Related: Seniors receive health benefits from any type of activity, including household chores.)

Researchers from the University College London, Bristol Medical School, and St. George’s Medical School London in the U.K., and Harvard Medical School in the U.S. aimed to identify the effects of objectively measured physical activity on the length of life in older men. Their study was part of a long-term cohort study, which included survivors of a study that started in 1978.

From the cohort study, 1,274 men, who were aged 78 on average, were recruited to get their health checked and to wear an activity monitor for a week. They were followed up by the researchers for an average of five years. The researchers monitored how many men survived to the end of the study, and whether their activity levels at the beginning of the study were associated with their lifespan. They also considered other factors that may affect the lifespan of the participants.

Results revealed that every extra 30 minutes per day spent sedentary was linked to a 15-percent increase in death risk. In contrast, every 30 minutes of light activity per day, such as walking the dog, was linked to a 15-percent lower death risk. Moreover, each 30 minutes of moderate-to-intense activity every day was associated to an eight-percent lower death risk. Furthermore, those who reached the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week had 40 percent reduction in chances of death, regardless of whether they did this in bouts of one to nine minutes, or bouts of 10 minutes and more.

The participants who were more active tend to be younger, non-smokers, drink less alcohol, and less likely to have a walking disability. During the five-year follow-up period, 194 men had died. The study was funded by the British Heart Foundation and the National Institute of Health Service Research.

Read more about the natural ways of living longer by going to Longevity.news.

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