You finish an episode of the latest boxset drama everyone is talking about and immediately click on the next episode, and the next, and the next…

Before you know it, you’ve been glued to the sofa for hours.

Binge-watching series such as The Crown and Narcos is part of a worrying modern trend that has almost removed the need to move.

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And it’s bad for our health, as a new report has revealed there has been a dramatic drop in how much we move around our houses and workplaces and take part in light physical activities.

But by doing twice as much light activity we can reverse the ill effects of being a couch potato and cut the risk of premature death by almost 30 per cent.

“The modern way of living has almost removed the need to move: from Netflix to searching for air tickets to holding virtual meetings, so much of what we do now is at the touch of a button,” says Sebastian Chastin, Professor of Human Health Behaviour Dynamics at Glasgow Caledonian University.

“Much of the time we used to spend moving is now spent sitting. While we have good evidence about how vigorous exercise affects our health, little is known about this disappearing background of daily light activity.”

The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, showed that light activity dramatically reduces the risk of premature death, even after accounting for levels of moderate to vigorous activity and other factors such as smoking.

The researchers also found that moving around can help people control their blood sugar and is particularly beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes. When a person interrupted sitting with a few minutes of light activity such as slow walking, it reduced blood sugar and insulin levels by 20 to 25 percent on average. People with type 2 diabetes had even greater benefits.

Dr Naveed Sattar, Professor of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow carried out a randomised study into the metabolic effects of breaking prolongued sitting in older people, which is associated with insulin resistance and poor cardiometabolic health. He found that walking breaks of five minutes every 30 minutes after meals lowered insulin and blood pressure but standing breaks did not improve the outcome.

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“It’s simple physics – if you walk after a meal, you burn calories that would otherwise stay in the blood. I recommend increasing your steps by 1,000 a day, equivalent to around 10 minutes – that’s achievable for most people,” he said.

Professor Chastin also believes that small, realistic changes can help combat our increasingly sedentary modern lifestyle.

“We need to build more light physical activity into our days. We are doing as much sport as we did 60 years ago, but what has changed is the time we spend doing household chores, being active at work. Most activities that used to involve moving are now geared to sitting down – whether it’s transport or how we work and spend our free time – and that is having a detrimental effect on health.”

His message is to “move as much as you can – the more the better.” He recommends getting up to talk to people at work instead of sending emails, more standing or walking meetings, taking the stairs, walking to the local shops, and putting an alert on your computer every 20 minutes to get up and walk around.

“And stop binge-watching on-demand television series for hours from the sofa. It’s up to us to be aware of how long we are sitting watching boxsets. I watch them but I do so on my tablet while sitting on a static exercise bike,” he added.

“We move so much less now than we used to – a ship worker on the Clyde expended around 4,000 calories a day in the freezing cold and could hardly eat enough to keep up, while we spend less than 700 calories a day sitting around in an office.

“Our bodies are made to move but our reptilian brains want us to conserve energy, so We have to watch our own behaviour and fight against a modern lifestyle that is damaging our health.”

Employers also have a responsibility to make workplaces less sedentary, according to Professor Chastin added: “Many workplaces effectively forbid us from moving – leaving your desk is frowned upon and seen as slacking while some workplaces police toilet breaks. It’s wrong. There is good evidence that our brains fire more effectively when we are on our feet and moving about.”