One hour of exercise a day could reduce the risk of premature death

A new study found it can offset the negative effects of a desk job

One hour of exercise a day could reduce the risk of premature death

Picture by: Ben Birchall / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Sitting for at least eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60%, according to a new study.

The study, published in the medical journal The Lancet, concluded that sitting all day can have serious health consequences and possibly even lead to an early death.

However, the researchers also found that one hour of physical activity could offset the negative effects of inactivity.

According to the findings, those who sat for eight hours each day but were physically active had a "much lower" risk of early death - compared to those who sat for less than eight hours each day but were not physically active.

Professor Ulf Ekelund, lead author of the research, said that while it can be very difficult for some people avoid sitting for long periods of the day, getting some exercise at any time and in any amount is better than none at all.

"We cannot stress enough the importance of getting exercise, whether it's getting out for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning or cycling to work.

An hour of physical activity per day is the ideal but, if this is unmanageable, then at least doing some exercise each day can help reduce the risk."

Although Prof Ekelund and his team acknowledge that there are limitations to the study - as the data mainly came from participants aged 45 years and older and living in western Europe, the US and Australia - they believe that the strengths of the research outweigh these limitations.

In 2012, a study in The Lancet journal said that inactivity was becoming a "global pandemic". However, Prof Ekelund said that the outcome of this study is positive.

“It is possible to reduce, or even eliminate, these risks if we are active enough, even without having to take up sports or go to the gym.”