File photo

London - nine-to-five office lifestyles are fuelling a ‘pandemic’ of inactivity and leading to 90,000 unnecessary deaths a year, researchers warn.

They say it raises the risk of dying early by up to 60 per cent – and that inactivity claims as many lives as smoking.

Adults who sit down for at least eight hours a day must do at least an hour’s daily exercise to undo all the harm, according to scientists at Cambridge University.

But even brief spurts of activity such as walking to the printer or going out for a coffee would help.

Their 20-year study, based on data from a million adults, published today in the Lancet, also estimates that 37 per cent of UK adults are completely inactive – meaning they spend less than 30 minutes a day on their feet

After a long day sitting down at the office, the average man and woman spends three hours watching television when they get home.

For many people who commute to work and have office jobs, there is no way to escape sitting for prolonged periods.

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

Take a five-minute break every hour. Go upstairs to the coffee machine, go to a print room but whatever you do, take those breaks. Build physical activity into your life.’

The researchers looked at data from a million adults involved in 16 studies worldwide – including from the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

Those who were sat down eight hours a day were 59 per cent more likely to die within 20 years than those who were sedentary for four hours or less. But this risk was almost eliminated if they did at least 60 to 75 minutes exercise a day – while two hours would be the ‘optimum’ level.

The team concluded that inactivity is now the main cause of preventable death from illnesses such as cancer. They said it was even deadlier than obesity – although the two are directly linked as not exercising can lead to weight gain.

Experts believe that failing to do enough exercise gradually reduces our body’s ability to carry out essential tasks. This includes a reduction in lung capacity, issues with digestion and the break down of sugar – eventually exposing us to numerous health problems. Inactivity is the number one risk factor for non-communicable disease. This is coronary heart disease, cancers, strokes. It’s much more dangerous for your health than obesity.

There are also fears that older adults could be even more at risk as they do the least exercise.

Daily Mail