Three minutes of “moderate exercise” an hour can reduce your risk of an early death by a third, researchers have found.
The study from Glasgow Caledonian University also found that 12 minutes of “light activity” - such as walking - for every 60 minutes spent sitting can achieve the same results.
Professor Sebastien Chastin, who worked on the study, 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.”
If you spend eight hours sitting a day while working from home, you should aim to be doing at least 24 minutes of moderate exercise per day. If you add on the hours you spend sitting watching telly or eating - another four hours - then you should aim to do at least 36 minutes of moderate exercise per day.
Or, you could always take this advice quite literally and spend three minutes of every hour you’re working exercising.
“It might sound bizarre, but it actually makes complete sense,” Tom Jenane, nutrition and fitness Expert for Natures Healthbox tells Yahoo UK.
“If you were to walk a mile, whether you’re walking or running it, you’ve still completed that mile and burned the associated calories. Just the same, whether you do a full 30 minute workout in one hit, or spend three minutes every hour working out, you can get to the same time period.”
Jenane adds that it depends on your exercise aims - if you want to build and tone muscle you will probably need more than three minutes but if you’re looking to keep active, three minutes while waiting for the kettle to boil could do wonders.
Emily Outterside, head trainer at F45 Peckham Rye agrees with the three-minute theory.
“Moving for three minutes every hour would be a highly effective way to get as much movement in throughout a day of working from home.
"It's a way to get an extra hit of NEAT into each day, which is ‘Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis’; a pretty important factor for staying healthy and losing weight or gaining muscle,” Outterside explains.
“Keeping active for even a few minutes every hour will keep blood flow circulating to the muscles which will increase oxygen intake into your muscles, and the brain. Your ability to maintain focus should increase as well, which as we all know is a huge win when working from home.”
Watch: Lower body and core workout
It’s well-known that staying sedentary for too long can have detrimental effects to your health. It can affect everything from your metabolism to your movement and flexibility.
“The trend towards standing desks in various offices isn’t just a fad, it’s actually backed by health studies as a great way to prevent you from becoming overweight and developing health issues such as diabetes or heart disease. There have even been connections with dementia around sitting still for too long,” Jenane says.
“Throughout these studies, the one constant was that whether the test subjects went to the gym in the day or not didn’t affect the health issues, it all came down to extensive sitting or lying without any form of movement. This is why it is crucial to move around when possible, whether that’s grabbing a round of coffee, walking on your lunch break or getting up to speak to someone rather than emailing them.”
What are some three-minute exercises I can do?
“In three minutes at home you could do a simple round of full-body exercises that will get the blood flow up without too much impact, given you’re not doing a warm up,” Outterside says.
She recommends the following exercises:
1 minute 'prisoner' bodyweight squats, standing with feet slightly wider than hip width apart and hands behind your head
1 minute press ups or knees-down press ups.
1 minute of sit-ups.
“With these you will have done a great round of moves that would have been of a reasonable difficulty that you go back to every hour and you would feel great by the end of the day with an improvement to strength, health and mindset,” she adds.
Jenane recommends standing calf raises, wall press and squats.
“If it doesn’t make too much noise and you have nobody downstairs, you can also perform some form of jumping exercises, such as jumping jacks, knee high raises or pretend jump ropes,” he continues.
“For those that aren’t as active or flexible, stretching can work wonders. Some of the best I’d recommend include the spinal twist, upper back stretch, side stretch, piriformis stretch (Lie on your back with both feet flat on the floor and both knees bent. Pull the right knee up to the chest, grasp the knee with the left hand and pull it towards the left shoulder and hold the stretch. Repeat for each side) and sometimes simply walking on the spot.”