Could your daily cycle commute be saving your life?

New research suggests we need an hour's exercise per day to counter eight hours at a desk ...

New research shows at least an hour of physical activity is necessary every day to offset the health impact of sitting at a desk for eight hours.

The latest research into the perils of modern working practises, published in the Lancet on Wednesday, suggests the current WHO recommendation of 150 minutes of exercise per week may not counter the risk of premature death caused by long hours of desk work.

However, the team of international experts behind the paper found this risk was eliminated among those who did at least an hour’s physical activity per day, and only sat for four hours per day.

Middle-aged cycle commuters typically 4-5kg lighter than those who drive to work

Researchers analysed data from 16 previous studies encompassing more than one million people, and predominantly focused on those aged over 45 living in the USA, Western Europe and Australia.

In a two- to 18-year follow-up the risk of dying was 9.9 per cent for those with desk jobs that did little activity, compared with 6.8 per cent for those who sat less than four hours per day and were active for at least one hour per day. 

While not everyone lives within cycling distance of work, or feels safe cycling on UK roads, there are other smaller things people can do to improve their health. Five minute breaks every hour are believed to be beneficial, as are replacing some of each evening's rest time with some form of physical activity.

Standing desks have been mooted as a solution to computer-based work, with recommendations people spend two hours standing at work, building up to an ideal four. Meanwhile staff at the journal that published the study, the Lancet, have introduced cycle desks.

You can read more on this in the Guardian's report, here.

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