Sitting all day can be deadly. 5-Minute Workout Breaks Can Reduce Health Risks:

Walking for five minutes every half hour can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

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Walking for five minutes every half hour can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

EschCollection / Getty Images

If you sit in front of a computer all day and then sit on the couch for more screen time in the evening, your health can suffer. a clues It links sedentary lifestyles with an increased risk of diabetes, dementia, and death from heart disease.

Here’s a wake-up call: One study found that, regardless of whether a person exercised, if they sat for more than 12-13 hours a day, they were more likely to lose weight. twice as likely to die Early, compared to people who sat the least.

You can reduce this risk with strikingly small amounts of activity, a new study finds.

researcher Keith Diaz of Columbia University Medical Center and colleagues to find out what it is the least The amount of physical activity a person must do to offset the health risks of sitting. They recruited volunteers to come into their lab and simulate a typical workday.

“They would come and sit for eight hours,” Diaz explains. The volunteers were connected to continuous glucose monitors to measure their blood sugar levels, and their blood pressure was measured as well. Then, the participants took walking breaks of varying length and pace.

“We found that walking for five minutes every half hour was able to offset much of the damage from sitting,” says Diaz.

Participants walked on the treadmill at a comfortable pace — about 1.9 miles per hour. “We were really amazed at how powerful the effects were,” says Diaz. People who moved for five minutes every half hour saw their post-meal blood sugar rise by nearly 60%.

“It’s surprising to me,” he says. Robert Sales, family physician at Kaiser Permanente, and past president of the American College of Sports Medicine. It’s known that exercise can help control blood sugar, but he says what’s new here is how beneficial frequent, short bouts of movement can be.

“I’ve never experienced this kind of drop in blood sugar, except for medication,” says Sales. He says he’s impressed with the results, which are published in the Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise.

more than One in three adults in the United States suffers from prediabetesand approx Half of all adults have high blood pressureAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both conditions increase the risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States, so, Sales says, many people can benefit from small, frequent breaks in movement.

Each week, adults are recommended to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity. says the CDC You can break this down into smaller parts, 30 minutes a day, five times a week for example, or even shorter breaks that are more frequent. “I think it’s easier to find small blocks of time to get some exercise,” says Sales.

The walking pace in the study was likely too relaxed to be considered “moderate intensity” for most people, but Loretta DiPietro, MD, is a professor at the Milken Institute, School of Public HealthThere are simple ways to increase the intensity, including walking faster. “Add some stairs,” she says. “Swing your arms,” ​​which helps engage more muscles.

Another tip: Play some music, because the tempo can get you to pick up speed. You may not lose weight with short rest periods, but “this is a great way to improve your metabolic profile,” DiPietro says, and it’s key to good health.

DiPietro was not involved in the new study, but her previous research has shown that, too Walking around after meals Helps improve blood sugar control.

The mechanism by which exercise leads to this benefit is well understood, she explains: When we exercise, our muscles require glucose — a sugar — as a fuel source. When we contract our muscles, DiPietro says, our bodies use it GLUT4 transporter proteins that rise to the surface of the muscle cell and accompany glucose molecules into the cell. Therefore, physical activity helps remove glucose from the bloodstream into the muscles where it can be stored and used. This helps lower blood sugar.

As employers look for ways to retain workers, DiPietro says encouraging movement during the workday has clear benefits. “The human body was not designed to sit for eight hours at a time,” DiPietro says. “What employers can do is provide people with options,” she says, such as encouraging walk-in meetings and promoting more flexibility, which have become more common since the pandemic.

Employers should be aware that there is another potential benefit of short, frequent breaks: “People were in a better mood because they took those breaks,” he says. Kathleen Jans, Professor Emeritus at the University of Iowa which focuses on health promotion. I reviewed the results of the new study for NPR and noticed that the study participants felt less tired.

It’s a reminder that getting our bodies moving during the workday isn’t a waste of time, says Gans. In fact, it can make us better workers and make us healthier at the same time. “It can be beneficial for everyone,” says Gans.

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