Study Finds How Much You Should Sit, Stand, Exercise, Sleep

They are questions we ask ourselves frequently. Are we walking enough? Do we sit too long? Are we sleeping enough or too much? How much time should be spent standing? Our doctors have all told us that not enough or too much of certain activities is bad for our health. But it’s hard to tell what we should be doing.

A new study from Australia has figured out the perfect balance between rest and activity for health. The optimum balance was found to help blood sugar levels and heart health. The perfectly healthy day comprises eight hours and 20 minutes of sleep, five hours and 10 minutes of standing, six hours of sitting and four hours and 20 minutes of light and moderate exercise.

Sleeping for more than nine hours has been linked to a higher risk of stroke. The scientists who conducted the study recommended aiming for eight hours and 20 minutes of sleep so that a person doesn’t under or oversleep.

The study found that replacing sedentary behavior with activity improved blood sugar. But, it helped people with blood sugar concerns more than people without any blood sugar concerns.

The study used able-bodied people. The researchers acknowledged that it did limit their results. Still, they said activity helps people’s health regardless of physical abilities. A person doesn’t need to be able to walk to exercise. Adding movement to the day can help boost health.

The team wrote, “Less time spent being sedentary and more time spent participating in physical activity is associated with improved plasma glucose, insulin sensitivity, insulin levels, fat percentage, and triacylglycerol and cholesterol levels.”

They also acknowledged that their perfect day is hard to achieve. They called their findings “a recommendation” and said people had to be “realistic and balanced.” People should pick sleep over being still, but not necessarily over exercising.  

The question we’re asking about this perfect day is why it doesn’t add up to 24 hours. If you do the math, it’s 10 minutes shy of a full day. It’s unclear if that’s a nod toward time that might be spent in the bathroom or if it’s spare time for transitioning between these activities. We just want to know where it went! The fact that this doesn’t add up to 24 is mystifying.

This study helps answer some of our questions from the start of the blog, at least in terms of percentages of our time. It shows we all are probably more sedentary than we should be and need to exercise more. The breakdown of hours might not fit into your day, but as a guideline, it could be helpful!

Banner image: Katrin Bolovtsova via Pexels

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