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Over the last decade, there has been an explosion of information about how beneficial exercise and physical activity is for everyone—young or old, sick or healthy.

Companies like Google, Apple and Samsung, whose core business had nothing to do with fitness or healthcare, are now betting heavily on this sector—the next big thing. Fitness bands across brands have been flying off the shelves and the reason perhaps is that people are realizing that physical activity throughout the day is far more important than a short concentrated workout.

We know today that 68% of premature deaths are because of non-communicable and lifestyle-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart problems, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Half of these premature deaths have been shown to be preventable if people are physically more active.

This evidence led to a general consensus among all the authorities in public health and sports medicine, like WHO, American College of Sports Medicine, etc., that 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and exercise, spread over the week, is recommended for everyone. New research, however, indicates that the 150-minute recommendation is not realistic. Studies, like one published in the Annals Of Internal Medicine, show that sitting down for as much as 8-9 hours a day increases the risk of early death; even exercising regularly cannot counter this. In fact, exercising for half an hour or an hour every day will not undo the effects of sitting or lying down for the remaining 23 hours.

Of course, if you are not exercising regularly and are very sedentary, the risk of early death almost doubles. Some studies, like a 2012 study published in the International Journal Of Behavioral Nutrition And Physical Activity, have gone to the extent of calling sitting the new smoking.

In our fight against physical inactivity and better health, we shouldn’t lose track of our primary objectives. We need to be mindful that the person who spends long hours sitting, has poor dietary habits, including eating processed food and drinking aerated drinks, doesn’t sleep well, is overworked and stressed, and doesn’t end up being physically active or doing enough exercises, is at risk. It is not one or the other issue that affects health—all these problems contribute to the larger issue.

Besides, being physically inactive affects academic achievement, cognitive abilities, brain structure and brain function and limits personal, social and emotional development too.

Here is what you can do to remain physically active through the day:

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