A new study has suggested that doing just one hour of brisk activity could offset some of the damage done to health from having a sedentary life.
The findings, published in the Lancet journal, were based on the analysis of more than a million people who took part in physical exercise tests.
An international team of researchers found that an hour of "brisk exercise" each day could offset the risk of early death associated with sitting at a desk when at work.
These findings are encouraging for those involved in elderly care, as many older people can be active. They show that even short periods of activity can be an effective way of reducing the health problems associated with leading a more sedentary lifestyle.
Having a team of occupational therapists and other professionals to devise plans, can help older people get the most health benefits out of short periods of exercise.
The study, which was released to coincide with the Olympics, also highlighted the importance of nutrition. It found that watching TV was worse than sitting at a desk because of the increased likelihood of snacking.
Being inactive increases the risk of a wide range of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, which older people are at a higher risk of having. The NHS currently recommends doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, with inactivity being linked to 5.3 million deaths globally a year.
To analyse the impact of activity, the team looked at 13 existing papers and put participants into different classes depending on how active they were.
It found that those who sat for eight hours a day, but were otherwise physically active, had a much lower risk of premature death than those who sat for less time during the day but were less active overall.
"There has been a lot of concern about the health risks associated with today's more sedentary lifestyles," said lead author Professor Ulf Ekelund, the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, Norway and the University of Cambridge. "Our message is a positive one: it is possible to reduce - or even eliminate - these risks if we are active enough, even without having to take up sports or go to the gym."