Move More, Sit Less, Live Longer

Even for those who exercised, moving more decreased mortality.


It's important to get a move on.

That's the latest message on daily activity from a University of Pennsylvania study, in which researchers found that any kind of activity decreased mortality, even among those who also exercised regularly.

Ezra Fishman, a doctoral candidate in demography at the University of Pennsylvania, led the study of approximately 3,000 people. Study participants were between the ages of 50 and 79.

The subjects wore highly sensitive activity trackers called accelerometers. Accelerometers, unlike devices such as pedometers, pick up even light activity.

Although previous research has shown a connection between activity and mortality, most studies ask participants to self-report. Self-reported activity data is notoriously over-reported.

"Because the 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," Fishman said in a press release.

The researchers then tracked mortality rates among study participants for the next eight years.

The study showed people who were least active were five times more likely to die during the study period, compared to those who were most active. Those who were in the middle range of activity were three times less likely to die than the least active person.

"When we compare people who exercise the same amount, those who sit less and move around more tend to live longer," Fishman summarized in the press release. "The folks who were walking around, washing the dishes, sweeping the floor tended to live longer than the people who were sitting at a desk."

Even 10 minutes of light activity (walking slowly, sweeping a floor) could make a difference, according to the researchers. Those who replaced 30 minutes of sedentary time with light to moderate physical activity had even better results.

"You didn't have to even get a good sweat to experience the reduced likelihood of mortality," Fishman said. "Activity doesn't have to be especially vigorous to be beneficial. That's the public health message."

The article was published in the March issue of Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise.

Information on study funding and conflict of interest was not available.