Exercise may cancel out the effects of sitting all day the office. New research reveals that regular physical activity may help lower the risk of health problems associated with sitting for long periods of time in office workers.

Researchers from the University of Leicester said that the latest findings highlight the importance of physical activity in maintaining and improving health. Study findings show that people who don't exercise and spend too much time sitting are significantly more likely to have poor health and have a higher risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.

While previous studies have linked higher levels of sedentary behavior to poorer health and higher levels of physical activity to better health, researchers noted that that not much research has been done to understand the health effects of the combination of sedentary and physical activity behaviors.

In the latest study, lead researcher Thomas Yates and his team at the University of Leicester wanted to determine how the four types of physical activity and sedentary time affect biomarkers associated with diabetes and heart disease.

The study used data from the UK 2008 Health Survey and grouped participants into four group: low sedentary behavior and high physical activity, high sedentary behavior and high physical activity, low sedentary behavior and low physical activity, and high sedentary behavior and low physical activity.

"We demonstrate that in comparison to adults who are physically inactive with high sedentary time, those who are physically active have a more desirable health profile across multiple cardiometabolic markers even when combined with high sedentary time. In contrast, low sedentary time in the absence of physical activity is associated with higher HDL-cholesterol levels," said Yates.

"By suggesting that being physically active may offset some of the deleterious consequences of routinely engaging in high levels of sedentary behavior, this study further emphasizes the importance of physical activity in the promotion and maintenance of health," he added.

"This research is significant because it demonstrates yet again why physical activity and exercise is so important. It shows that people who spend large amounts of time not moving either through work, leisure or lifestyle can counteract some of the negative effects of sedentary behavior by regularly exercising," said Kishan Bakrania, co-researcher of the University of Leicester.

The findings were published in the journal BMC Public Health.