New research in Europe has found more evidence to suggest that physical activity — at any intensity — could help to lower the risk of an early death, while spending too much time being sedentary could have the opposite effect.

Led by researchers at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo, Norway, the new study analysed data from eight high-quality studies which included a total of 36,383 adults aged at least 40 years and with an average age of 62.

In the studies, physical activity was measured with accelerometers, a wearable device that tracks the amount and intensity of activity during waking hours, and the data used to categorise the participants into groups depending on the intensity of their activity.  The findings, published by The BMJ today, showed that after taking into account potentially influential factors, any level of physical activity, regardless of intensity, was associated with a substantially lower risk of death.

Moreover, increasing time spent active was associated with a sharp decrease in the number of deaths, even when the activity was of light intensity.

In contrast, spending a large portion of the day being sedentary, 9.5 hours or more, was associated with a statistically significant increased risk of death, with the team finding approximately five times more deaths among inactive participants compared with those who were most active.

The findings are in line with previous studies which have repeatedly suggested that sedentary behavior has a negative effect on health and is linked to premature death, while keeping active can increase the chance of living a longer, and healthier, life. 

Guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. Examples of light intensity activity includes walking slowly or light tasks such as cooking or washing dishes. Moderate activity includes brisk walking, vacuuming, or mowing the lawn, and vigorous activity includes jogging and activities such as carrying heavy loads or digging. – Relaxnews