Just a few minutes of movement can lower your risk of dying

Getting up to move frequently lowers chances of dying

A new study from Penn researchers shows just getting up and moving every ten minutes can lower our chances of dying, even for people who regularly exercise. 

The findings, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise comes from data that included approximately 3,000 people between 50 and 79 years of age.

Tracking the health benefits of just moving

Ezra Fishman, a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania and a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Aging and other scientists placed accelerometers on study participants for seven days to gather information about the subjects' movements. 

They then looked at who died over the next 8 years. 

Sitting still boosts death risk five-fold

When the researchers compared the most sedentary people to those who just moved about doing dishes or other activities they found a five-fold higher chance of dying from being a couch potato or from sitting in from of a computer for hours on end. 

Compared to past studies showing similar results, the current study was more accurate. Previous research relied on self-reports of activity. This study used more precise tracking.

Fishman says:

"Because the [accelerometer] device captures the intensity of activity so frequently, every minute, we can actually make a distinction between people who spent two hours a day doing those activities versus people who spent an hour and a half."

The researchers also took into account chronic health conditions and other factors that could lead to mortality such as smoking, age and gender. 

Participants with chronic medical conditions were excluded from a secondary analysis of the data.

The findings support what we've been told repeatedly - that being sedentary can shorten lifespan. 

A study conducted by University of Leeds last year showed fidgeting or performing small movements might undo some of the negative effects of being sedentary.  

The new finding from the Penn research team suggests just how important it is to get up and move frequently, even it is just to mop, take a walk up and down the hallway or twitch about in your computer chair.