Experts have developed a formula to reduce the risk of early death by almost a third which corresponds with the amount of time sitting.
The international team of scientists, led by Glasgow Caledonian University, found three minutes of moderate exercise for each hour of the day you spend sitting could cut early fatalities by up to 30%.
This could be replaced by 12 minutes of light physical activity for every 60 minutes sat down.
Professor Sebastien Chastin said: “Our new formula found that three minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per hour of sitting will get the balance right and help you live a longer, healthier life.
“The leftover hours should be spent generally moving around as much as you can and getting a good night’s sleep.
“This new cocktail, or simple formula, really boosts your health protection.
“We wanted to find out what the perfect cocktail of physical activity throughout a day was for maximum health in terms of the time spent sitting, exercising, just moving around, and sleeping, and how these all work together.
“The first thing we had to do was to introduce an entirely new concept into how we looked at activity data and used compositional data analysis, which has similarities to understanding how a mixture is put together, like a recipe or cocktail, to find out the best formula for health longevity.
“This is the largest study in the world into the best cocktail of activity for a longer life and protection against ill health.
“We analysed data from six different studies around the world that used sensors to measure movement on more than 130,000 people throughout the day. It’s really reliable data.”
Previous studies have looked at the impact of one type of activity or another in isolation.
This is the first piece of evidence that has found the best combination needed to prolong life.
The four-year study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, is the largest of its kind in the world, analysing data from six previous studies including more than 130,000 adults in the UK, US and Sweden.
Although the current recommendation to do 30 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity reduces the odds of an earlier death by up to 80% for some – those who sat for less than seven hours – it did not reduce mortality risk for individuals who were very sedentary.