Back to list All Articles Archives Search RSS Terug naar lijst Alle artikelen Archieven Zoek RSS

Myth: Office workers should exercise twice a week

Myth: Office workers should exercise twice a week

Photographer:Fotograaf: Eric Fonseca Wald

Myth busters

Until a few years ago, the exercise guideline was: half an hour each day or 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. At least ten successive minutes, otherwise it had hardly any to no effect on one's condition. “That last one is incorrect, says the Flemish postdoc Bernard Duvivier, who, last year wrote the thesis: Sit Less or Exercise More? “Accumulating, as we call it, is definitely worthwhile. The ten-minute rule was handy in particular for scientific measurements.”

In addition, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is interpreted more broadly these days as more than just exercising, which also has to do with measurements, says Duvivier. “In the past, we collected questionnaires, in which we asked, for the sake of convenience, about sports activities. These days, we hang a measuring device on someone's hip or leg, and thus gain a much more detailed image. It has become clear that gardening, hoovering and cycling to work have just as much right to be included in the category of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.”

So, is there no need to exercise? That is jumping to conclusions. “That fact that exercising is beneficial to health is absolutely clear,” says Duvivier, who is also training to be a GP. “The risk of cardiovascular disease is smaller, but also the risk of cancer, depression, osteoporosis, you name it. People who exercise are, moreover, happier because of the endorphin that is released in the brain. Also, every minute that you add to that half hour proves beneficial. An hour a day is actually ideal.”

At least - and that is where the present guidelines also differ from the previous ones – if you don't sit too much during the day. “The activity tracker gave a more detailed image of all physical activity but also showed how much we sit in a day: nine hours in the Netherlands. And that has negative effects, whether you exercise a lot or not. You are at an increased risk of dying earlier. I don't know exactly how many years that would be, but the risk of premature death is six times as high.”

So, what should we do? “In addition to vigorous exercising, we need to sit less and do more light exercises, such as standing, sauntering, walking. Preferably ten thousand steps a day, although some say 7,500 is enough. In Belgium, the guideline says that you need to get up after every half hour you sit, in the Netherlands it only states that you have to sit less. There was too little proof for other indications, which was to some extent correct.”

Does Duvivier have any tips? He himself stands at his desk; both at home and at work in the department of Movement Sciences. “I really like it, I am more alert, although it is an art trying to alternate. I think that I stand about half of the time. Besides that, I never take the lift, unless I need to be on the tenth floor. And I park my car in the furthest corner of the parking lot, where, by the way, there is always space.”

As a GP in training, he never sits for more than ten minutes, because that is when he has to stand up and go to the waiting room for his next patient. “I also make home visits and anything within a radius of one kilometre, I do on foot. “We have our lunch while walking. That is really good for diabetic patients, because the light physical exercise while eating levels off the sugar peaks.”

And at home? Do you ever sit on the sofa for a whole evening watching television? “I often stand and do the ironing at the same time.”

Myth busters is a series in which academics shoot down popular myths on complex topics

Categories:Categorieën:
Tags:

CommentsReacties

There are currently no comments.Er zijn geen reacties.

Post a Comment

Laat een reactie achter

Door een reactie te plaatsen gaat u akkoord met de verwerking van de ingevulde gegevens door Observant.
Voor meer informatie: Privacyverklaring
By responding, you agree to send the entered data to Observant.
For more info: Privacy statement

Name (required)

Email (required)