Walking an extra two minutes each hour may offset the health hazards of sitting too long, says a new study on mortality
In our experience, the phrase “it’ll only take two minutes” is almost always a gross understatement, if not a boldfaced lie. So we almost thought this was too good to be true: Two minutes of walking every hour can lower your risk of dying. Literally, just two minutes.
Researchers from the University of Utah School of Medicine looked at data from 3,243 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey who wore accelerometers which measured the intensity of their activities throughout the day. After that data was collected, participants were then followed for three years to determine the effect on their physiological health.
Their findings? For people who are sedentary for more than half of their waking hours (read: the average American), getting up and walking for two minutes each hour can combat the health hazards associated with sitting—which, as a reminder, include heart disease, diabetes, certain kinds of cancer and early death. The study even found that moving for just a few minutes is associated with a 33 percent lower risk of dying. (Smaller studies have found similar benefits among men who walked for five minutes every hour.)
The study, published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, also reports that standing for that short period of time was not enough to offset the health dangers of sitting for long periods of time. But that doesn’t mean you should ditch your standing desk. Research shows that alternating between standing and sitting throughout the day is definitely still a good idea—you just need to stay upright for longer than two minutes to reap the benefits! (Find out How Many Calories You Burn When You Stand at Work.)
Not only is the whole living longer thing awesome, but leaving your desk to take a walk is also a great way to de-stress, overcome mental fatigue, and feel more energized (even when you hit the dreaded mid-afternoon slump).
So if you’re still reading this, stop, get up, and walk around for two minutes (or more if you can!). You’ll be done before you even have the time to even come up with a ridiculous excuse not to.