University of Jyväskylä

Exercise is not enough for sedentary workers

Good physical condition is a route to better health, and in order to improve it, exercising several days a week is recommended. Although it is possible to become healthier by exercising, long daily sedentary periods cause a health risk despite physical activity.

Prior to this, it has not been clear how these two extremes in physical activity levels are connected. Does, for example, going to the gym reduce the time spent on sedentary activities, or should one also find something else to reduce it? Answers to these questions were sought in a newly published study by the University of Jyväskylä’s Department of Biology of Physical Activity.

No differences between men and women

The study compared 27 Finnish men and women, adults and the aged, over two days. On the first day they performed some form of physical activity and on the second none at all. By measuring the muscle activity and heart rate it was discovered that although 30 to 150 minutes of exercise increased energy consumption, it did not decrease muscle inactivity – that is, the time spent sitting down. There were no differences between men and women.

In addition, the researchers discovered that the energy consumption as measured by heart rate was higher with the aged than with the younger participants. This means that the aged move in their daily lives at a relatively higher power than younger adults due to their lower maximal oxygen uptake.


Shorts provide information on muscle activity

In the study, Finnish clothing technology was used in order to measure quadricipital activity. As the body’s main movement muscles, they provide essential information on our exercise habits. The results showed that the muscles are inactive about 70 per cent of the day, irrespective of whether the day included any fitness training. When the muscles are inactive for long periods, the fat metabolism, for example, can change into being disadvantageous to one’s health. Because of this, it is extremely important to pay attention to the amount of exercise and to reduce the amount of sitting.

Research details:

Taija Finni, Piia Haakana, Arto Pesola, Teemu Pullinen (2012) Exercise for fitness does not decrease the muscular inactivity time during normal daily life. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2012.01456.x


Further information: Professor Taija Juutinen,, tel. +358 40 556 6582

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