the Research brief It is a short excerpt from an interesting academic work.
The big idea
To reduce the harmful health effects of sitting, take a five-minute walk every half hour. This is the main conclusion of New study Published by my colleagues and I in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
We asked 11 healthy adults, middle-aged and older, to sit in our lab for eight hours—which amounts to a typical workday—over five separate days. On one of those days, the participants sat for a full eight hours with short breaks to use the bathroom. On the other days, we tested a number of different strategies for breaking up sitting with light walking. For example, on one day, the participants walked for 1 minute every half hour. On another day, they walked for five minutes every hour.
Our goal was to find the least amount of walking one could do to offset the harmful health effects of sitting. In particular, we measured changes in blood sugar levels and blood pressure, which are two important factors Risk factors for heart disease.
We found that a five-minute brisk walk every half hour was the only strategy that significantly lowered blood sugar levels compared to sitting all day. In particular, walking for five minutes every half hour reduced the rise in blood sugar after eating by about 60%.
This strategy also lowered blood pressure by four to five points compared to sitting all day. But shorter, less frequent walks also improved blood pressure. Even just a minute of brisk walking every hour lowers blood pressure by five points.
In addition to the physical health benefits, there were also mental health benefits to walking intervals. During the study, we asked the participants to rate their mental state using a questionnaire. We found that compared to sitting all day, five minutes of brisk walking every half hour reduced feelings of fatigue, put participants in a better mood and helped them feel more energized. We also found that even walking just once an hour was enough to improve mood and reduce fatigue.
why does it matter
People who sit for long hours develop chronic diseases Including diabetes, heart disease, dementia and several types of cancer at much higher rates than people who commute all day. A sedentary lifestyle also puts people at much greater risk early death. But just daily exercise may not work The harmful health effects of sitting.
Due to advances in technology, the amount of time adults in industrialized countries like the United States spend sitting has been increasing steadily for decades. Many adults now spend most of their day sitting. This problem has since worsened The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the migration to remote work, people are less inclined to go out of the house these days. It is therefore clear that strategies are needed to combat the growing public health problem of the twenty-first century.
Current guidelines recommend this Adults should “sit less, move more.”. But these recommendations don’t offer any specific advice or strategies about how often and for how long you should move.
Our work provides a simple and affordable strategy: Take a five-minute light walk every half hour. If you have a job or lifestyle where you have to sit for long periods, this behavioral change can reduce the health risks from sitting.
Our study also provides clear guidance for employers on how to promote a healthier workplace. While it may seem counterintuitive, taking regular walking breaks can actually help workers be more productive than working non-stop.
What is still unknown
Our study focused primarily on taking regular walking breaks at a light intensity. Some walking strategies — for example, brisk walking for one minute every hour — didn’t lower blood sugar levels. We don’t know if more rigorous walking would provide health benefits at these doses.
We are currently testing over 25 different strategies to offset the health harms of prolonged sitting. Many adults have jobs, such as driving trucks or taxis, where they simply can’t walk every half hour. Finding alternative strategies that yield comparable results can provide the public with many different options and ultimately allow people to choose the strategy that works best for them and their lifestyle.
This article has been republished from Conversation, an independent, nonprofit news website dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. written by: Keith DiazAnd Columbia University. The Conversation is trustworthy news from experts, from an independent nonprofit. Try our free newsletters.
Keith Diaz receives funding from the National Institutes of Health.