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Sitting down all day is costing the global economy billions

The study, which was published in the Lancet, highlights the monetary impact of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles

A renowned medical journal has recently published a study revealing that illnesses directly linked to periods of inactivity are costing the global economy as much as $67.5bn (over £50bn) each year.

The study, which was published in the Lancet, highlights the monetary impact of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. In 2013 this impact stretched to $67.5bn globally, which is equal to Costa Rica’s entire GDP for the same period.

Modern life has brought with it many benefits: online shopping, the convenience of owning a car, an abundance of television shows to watch and the capacity to have food delivered straight to your door. Many jobs are no longer within walking distance, meaning our commute to work often relies on buses, cars or trains, where on a good day we will find a comfortable seat and can browse the internet on our smartphones. Desk jobs have also increased and many workers choose not to have a break for lunch, meaning any food is quickly eaten sitting at the same desk they have been sitting at all day.

There are five main illnesses that are closely linked to spending too much time sitting down: stroke, colon cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and breast cancer. The study focused on analysing the monetary impact of these diseases. It is important to note that the findings are only estimates, as quantifying the lifestyle element of disease in any individual is not an exact science.

The World Health Organisation says that we should all be doing at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. Using this figure as a benchmark, the organisers of the study were ultimately reliant upon individuals accurately and honestly reporting how much physical activity they had undertaken each week.

This, of course, is not the most reliable method of conducting a study to produce perfect data; however, the individuals behind the research have readily admitted and acknowledged this fact. Rather than considering the study and its results to be perfect, they instead want the data to be considered a starting point for the wider conversation that needs to take place over the coming months and years.

The $67.5bn figure includes both healthcare costs and the reduction in productivity during illness. The study should be looked at by both businesses and governments, which should then go on to consider how they could work towards encouraging everyone to move a little more and sit a little less.

The Lancet also recently published a study centred on exercise, which concluded that one hour of moderate physical activity every day is enough to counter the worrying results that come from a sedentary lifestyle.

Walking to the next bus stop, stepping outside at lunchtime or dusting off that bike after work will not only help your own health but also the overall health of your country.

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