Most people could do more sport. From the cars and subways that make us sit comfortably, to the sitting day jobs, to the hours we spend immobile on our phones or computers when we are not working, most of us miss the recommended 150 minutes of training Week. Too little exercise is associated with a number of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and even some forms of dementia.
But in a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine researchers say that not all movement is the same. In fact, they found that physical activity is associated with a higher risk of early death.
Pieter Coenen, a health researcher at the VU University Hospital in the Netherlands, and his colleagues analyzed 1
The results seem to be contradictory to all data documenting the benefits of sport. but Coenen says these studies focused on physical activity during leisure time. "We think physical activity at work and at leisure are two really different types of exercise with different physiological outcomes as a result," he says.
While people who are recovering can usually stay active for about an hour and take breaks when tired, people with demanding physical work often spend hours doing the same labor-intensive tasks with just a few pauses. Moderate physical activity can increase heart rate and increase blood pressure just enough to strengthen the heart and cardiovascular system. However, intense physical activity combined with physically strenuous work can be more of a burden than an advantage to the heart. "People who are very active actively spend eight hours a day," says Coenen. "You can get very limited rest periods, and heart rate and blood pressure are consistently high throughout the day, which can lead to the opposite of what is healthy for the heart, namely, to burden the cardiovascular system."
Add It happens that people with physically demanding activities may not get the kind of exercise that they could benefit them, as they assume that their job at work is sufficient. "These people have double problems because they do not benefit from recreational activities and are at risk of physical activity at work," says Coenen.
The study could not differentiate between the reasons for early death the people who were physically more active at work. For example, it is possible that factors other than physical activity can raise the higher risk of early death. People with physically demanding jobs tend to smoke more and often have less education and lower incomes. They also tend to come from lower socioeconomic groups, which in itself is associated with a higher risk of early death.
However, the results underline the fact that not all physical activity is beneficial and that physical activity guidelines should take this into account to ensure that people get the right amount – and the right kind – of physical activity. "I generally hope there is a better balance between physical activity and recreational activities," says Coenen. "We could try to reduce the amount of physical activity at work, or try to add more breaks to reduce the overall intensity of physical activity in the workplace, and a policy could also make workers more physically active in their free time." he says.