Women exercise in front of a trainer (L) as the sun sets near Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados March 13, 2014. Reuters/Philip Brown

A new study has revealed that only one hour of brisk walking every day may eliminate the health risks commonly associated with long hours of sitting in office. The world-first study by the University of Sydney researchers said that The global cost of physical inactivity for 2013 was US$67.5 billion (AU$90 billion).

Activity levels of one million people from Western Europe, the US and Australia were analysed to find out how many hours of physical activity is required to counterbalance prolonged periods of sitting.

Keeping the average age of 45, the experts divided the individuals between four equally-sized groups as per the duration of their physical activity; those with less than five minutes a day for the least active and up to 60-75 minutes a day for the most active.

The researchers found out that those who sat eight hours a day but were physically active had much lower risk of dying from a chronic disease compared to those who sat for fewer hours but were not physically active. The findings, published in journal Lancet, suggest that physical activity is important irrespective of the number of hours a person spends time sitting.

In another article, also published in Lancet, the researchers point out the cost burden of lifestyle diseases on health budgets. They also point out the cost of premature death relating to physical inactivity.

Developing countries had the cost of burden calculated differently as consequences of lifestyle diseases is often premature death.

“These are the diseases associated with physical inactivity. It also includes the cost of productivity losses when people die prematurely because of physical inactivity,” Sydney University senior research fellow Melody Ding told the ABC.

Dink explained that the cost included healthcare expenses associated with chronic diseases such as heart diseases and diabetes. The health risks associated with sitting for eight hours a day were eliminated with a one hour regime of physical activity per day. Those who sat for long hours and were inactive were at the greatest risk of premature death.