Islamabad - A typical day for many people includes at least 8 hours of sitting - driving to work, sitting in an office, driving home, and watching TV. An international study of over 1 million people shows that 1 hour of moderate physical activity can eliminate the health risks associated with sedentary behaviour.

Getting out for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning, cycling to work, or even walking the dog for an hour can eliminate the health risks of prolonged sitting.

The study forms the first part of a four-paper series that provides an overview and update of worldwide trends of physical activity and the global impact of physical inactivity.

The first series observing physical activity was released in 2012 ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. The study authors caution that there has been little progress in tackling the global pandemic of physical activity since the 2012 Olympics, with a quarter of adults worldwide failing to meet physical activity recommendations.

In the analysis, the researchers posed the question: Does exercise reduce or eradicate the harmful effects - including increased risk of early death - that are associated with prolonged sitting?

Health risks that are linked to physical inactivity include an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers, with recent estimates suggesting that more than 5 million people die each year globally due to failing to meet daily activity levels.

Results from the study show that people that spend 8 hours a day sitting but are physically active have a significantly lower risk of death than people who spend fewer hours sitting, but who are not physically active.

Moreover, the increased risk of death associated with spending 8 hours sitting was eliminated by 1 hour of physical activity per day.

People who had the greatest risk of death were those individuals who sat for prolonged periods and were mostly inactive. They were between 28-59 percent more likely to die early, compared with those in the most active group, which is a similar risk to that associated with smoking and obesity.

The study finds that only around 25 percent of participants did an hour or more exercise per day.

“There has been a lot of concern about the health risks associated with today’s more sedentary lifestyles,” says Prof. Ulf Ekelund, of the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, Norway, and the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

“Our message is a positive one: 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.”

“For many people who commute to work and have office-based jobs, there is no way to escape sitting for prolonged periods of time. For these people in particular, 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,” he adds.

Also observed in the study was time spent watching TV per day - a particular type of sedentary behavior - in a subgroup of approximately half a million people.

Watching TV for 3 hours per day was associated with an increased risk of death in all activity groups, except among the most active. The authors say that this association could be because long hours watching TV may be a marker of a more unhealthy lifestyle in general, including being less likely to take exercise.

Wearing glasses CAN make you miserable

Even mild sight loss may lead to depression, loneliness and worse overall health, a major study has found.

Researchers from University College London say millions of adults with early stage cataracts and other vision problems are being overlooked by the NHS.

Their study of 112,300 men and women found that those with mild sight problems were 12 per cent more likely to say their health was poor.

Millions of adults with early stage cataracts and other vision problems are being overlooked by the NHS and are more likely to be treated for depression and other mental health problems

They also had a 14 per cent chance of being under the care of a psychiatrist for depression, anxiety or other mental health problems.

The authors say even mild vision impairment can affect people’s eating habits, activity levels, social life and lead to accidents in the home.

Professor Jugnoo Rahi looked at the records of adults aged 40 to 74, many of whom had cataracts or other sight problems including glaucoma or macular generation.

She said that even slight vision impairments – that didn’t affect driving - could lead to serious long term effects on peoples’ quality of life.

‘It could be that you start to change the lifestyle, be more sedentary, eat differently and it could also impact social structures.

Even mild vision impairment can affect people’s mental health as well as their eating habits, activity levels, social life and lead to accidents in the home, the report said

‘There is also a sense you feel less in control of your life.

‘This will be a big surprise for the NHS. We are not doing enough and they are not getting the resources they need.’

Professor Rahi said basic eye tests should be incorporated into health MOTs to detect the first signs of sight loss.

‘In the care of older people, vision should be a priority.

‘It’s a mistake to think its ok to remove the cataracts in one eye, for example, and think that someone who had good vision in two eyes is going to function just as well.’