Sitting All Day Isn’t Bad if You Do Enough Physical Activity

As a society, we’ve been so focused on the dangers of being sedentary. But the reality is many of us must be sedentary because of our office jobs. Today, the most physical activity people can get from 9-5 is walking around the office. Sure, you can get a treadmill desk or trade your chair for an exercise ball, but it turns out you actually don’t need to do that in order to increase your heart health and your cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF). Numerous studies have shown that your cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) can be top-notch so long as you get your heart pumping throughout the week. The number of times you need to do that depends on your current fitness level, age, sex and resting heart rate. 

The PAI program, or Personal Activity Intelligence, works for the modern lifestyle. Researchers in Norway discovered and validated PAI by conducting studies using data from one of the largest health studies ever done. They determined that for optimal health a person needs to improve their CRF-- it is the most important metric for a healthy heart. You can improve your CRF by doing any activity that elevates the heart rate. Daily workouts that demand heart-pumping activity are not necessary to achieve CRF improvement, which is good news for most people who don’t have time to be active every single day and may be sedentary. 

The study titled, “Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI), Sedentary Behavior and Cardiovascular Risk Factor Clustering – the HUNT Study” published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, summarized the study’s findings: “The recently developed metric for physical activity (PA) tracking called Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI) takes into account age, sex, resting and maximum heart rate, and a score of ≥100 weekly PAI has been shown to reduce the risk of premature CVD death in healthy as well as individuals with known CVD risk factors, regardless of whether or not the current physical activity recommendations were met.

The number of times you need to be active each week to improve your CRF varies from person to person because PAI is customized to everybody. For instance, if you currently do not exercise, taking a few walks each week could be enough activity to get your heart pumping and improve your CRF. If you already do a heart-pumping activity a couple times per week, you might need to step it up to improve your PAI score-- maybe by adding in one additional activity. 

Here’s another thing we love about PAI: you don’t need to be in the gym all the time (or at all) to improve your CRF. Do you have a laundry list of household chores to do when you get home from work? Try speeding through those chores fast enough to increase your heart rate. You’ll likely earn some PAI and maybe even finish early enough to do something fun for the rest of the evening. 

PAI lets people get creative while improving their health. You can live your live and do what you love while getting healthier. That’s something everyone can get behind. 

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Data from the HUNT study was used to develop and validate PAI as an effective tool in prescribing personalized amounts of life-extending physical activity. It was determined that if a person achieved and maintained 100 weekly PAI, they would lower their risk of cardiovascular disease