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Lounging too long in lockdown raises disease risk

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Life in lockdown leaves limited scope for exercise. But even with the one form a day, sitting for longer than 20 minutes at a time raises the risk of other diseases, sports scientists warn.

People who spend lots of their day sitting down have a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease, says physiologist Dr Daniel Bailey. 

And children who stay sat down for long stretches – longer than 20 minutes at a time – have higher levels of disease risk markers, his research reveals.

“Even if you are someone who is moderately active, your one form of outdoor exercise each day might not protect you from sitting down too much,” said the sedentary behaviour specialist at Brunel University London. “So even if you go out for that regulatory stroll or jog, you should also try not to sit down for long periods,” he said.

Sitting down for a long time builds up sugar and cholesterol levels in the blood. But simply breaking up sitting time with two to five minutes of light or moderate activity every 20 to 30 minutes can help keep blood sugar and cholesterol levels lower. It could also help stop people piling on weight, Dr Bailey’s research reveals. Simply breaking up sitting time by moving around for two minutes helps use up calories without boosting appetite or food intake to make up for the extra energy burnt.

 

How to break up your lock-down sitting time

  • Stand up, walk round or go up and down stairs during TV ad breaks
  • Get up and move around when you’re on Facetime or Skype
  • Download a sitting-time tracking app that tells you when get up and move around. Try Stand Up! The Work Break Timer on Apple, or Break Reminder on Android
  • If you’re at a laptop or computer, try WorkRave for Windows, Break Timer Google Chrome extension, or Time Out for Windows or Mac
  • Take breaks to stand, walk, use the stairs, jump up and down, do bodyweight resistance exercise such as lifting your knees up, standing on your toes, or getting up and down from a chair