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Physical Activity Cancels out the Effects of Sitting All Day at Work

Update Date: Dec 05, 2013 04:22 PM EST

Even though jobs are necessary in life, sitting in front of a screen from nine to five can take a toll on people's health. Several studies have found that sedentary desk jobs are detrimental. A new study, however, is reporting that there could be a way to cancel out the effects of sitting all day. The study out of the University of South Australia found that as long as people are also physically active, the health risks of sitting at a desk all day would be greatly reduced.

For this study, Dr. Carol Maher, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University examined 5,083 American adults. Maher conducted cross-sectional analyses using data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The survey encompassed the time frame from April 2003 to June 2005 and interviewed a nationally representative group of people. During the analyses process, Maher focused on the relationship between people's physical activity or sedentary levels and their risk of being overweight or obese. The sample set was divided into two sets of three groups. The first set was determined by people's physical activity levels, which could be low, medium or high. The second set categorized people's sedentary levels into low, medium or high.

Maher discovered that people from the low physical activity group had a greater risk of becoming obese. These people were four times more likely to have obesity when compared to people from the medium and high physical activity groups. Maher found the time spent being sedentary did not affect people's risk of being overweight or obese. She also reported that minuscule changes in physical activity time, such as an extra five to 10 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day would greatly affect people's risk of obesity.

"The nice thing about these results is that people with desk jobs can be reassured that as long as they are doing a bit of activity, their desk job isn't putting them at risk of obesity," Dr. Maher said according to Medical Xpress. "And our results suggest the amount of physical activity needed is actually very achievable."

The study, "The independent and combined associations of physical activity and sedentary behavior with obesity in adults: NHANES 2003-06," was published in Obesity.

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