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Scientists discover world-first cocktail for a longer life

Physical activity can help live a healthier, longer life
"This work results from a fruitful scientific collaboration between BioSS and Glasgow Caledonian University, along with an international team of researchers"

An international team of scientists including Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS) has discovered the perfect cocktail of physical activity that could help live a healthier, longer life.

Experts discovered that the winning formula for reducing the odds of early death by 30% is to do three minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise or 12 minutes of light physical activity for each hour of the day you spend sitting. Previous studies have looked at the impact of one type of activity or another in isolation, but this is the first piece of evidence that has found the best combination, or cocktail, of ingredients needed to prolong life.

The four-year study, led by Glasgow Caledonian University and 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.

The research used activity monitors on participants and a technique called compositional analysis to determine how different combinations of activities - including moderate to vigorous exercise (such as brisk walking, running, or other activities that increase heart rate), light physical activity (such as housework or casual walking), and sedentary behaviour - affect mortality. 

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 (over 11 to 12 hours per day), the researchers found.

Professor Sebastien Chastin, leader of 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.

“Thirty minutes of physical activity per day or 150 hours a week is what is recommended but you still have the potential to undo all that good work if you sit too long. 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 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.”

The researchers also found that there were multiple combinations of activities associated with a 30% reduction in the odds of an early death:

  • 55 minutes of exercise, 4 hours of light physical activity, and 11 hours of sitting
  • 13 minutes of exercise, 5.5 hours of light physical activity, and 10.3 hours of sitting
  • 3 minutes of exercise, 6 hours of light physical activity, and 9.7 hours of sitting

Dr Javier Palarea-Albaladejo, BioSS co-author, commented: “This work results from a fruitful scientific collaboration between BioSS and Glasgow Caledonian University, along with an international team of researchers. It presents a federated pooled analysis of data gathered from a number of prospective studies to investigate how different combinations of daily activities, as objectively monitored using accelerometer technologies, relate to mortality risk.

"On the quantitative side, this research was supported by novel compositional data analysis techniques and a software platform developed in-house that, unlike traditional statistical methods, accounted for the intrinsic interplay between the times spent across daily activity behaviours."

The paper, entitled, ‘Joint association between accelerometry-measured daily combination of time spent in physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep and all-cause mortality: a pooled analysis of six prospective cohorts using compositional analysis’, was published online in British Journal of Sports Medicine.

BioSS, formally a part of the James Hutton Institute, is recognised internationally for work at the interface between the quantitative sciences and a wide span of applied sciences. It specialises in methodological development and applications of statistics, mathematical modelling and bioinformatics to enhance scientific knowledge and increase the impact of research in agriculture and the rural economy, the environment, food and health. BioSS scientists maintain many collaborative research partnerships across the public and private sector. BioSS holds an Investor in People Gold Award and a Healthy Working Lives Silver Award.

Press and media enquiries: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, James Hutton Institute, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

Printed from /news/scientists-discover-world-first-cocktail-longer-life on 02/10/23 01:22:59 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.