In a study from Columbia University, scientists found that a 5-minute stroll every half hour may protect people from the harmful effects of prolonged sitting.
They found just five minutes of walking every half hour during periods of prolonged sitting can offset some of the most harmful effects.
Mounting evidence suggests that prolonged sitting—a staple of modern-day life—is hazardous to your health, even if you exercise regularly.
Based on these findings, doctors advise all adults to sit less and move more. But how often do we need to get up from our chairs? And for how long?
In the study, the team tested five different exercises “snacks”: one minute of walking after every 30 minutes of sitting, one minute after 60 minutes; five minutes every 30; five minutes every 60; and no walking.
Each of the 11 adults who participated in the study came to the laboratory, where participants sat in an ergonomic chair for eight hours, rising only for their prescribed exercise snack of treadmill walking or a bathroom break.
Researchers kept an eye on each participant to ensure they did not over- or under-exercise and periodically measured the participants’ blood pressure and blood sugar (key indicators of cardiovascular health).
Participants were allowed to work on a laptop, read, and use their phones during the sessions and were provided standardized meals.
The team found the optimal amount of movement was five minutes of walking every 30 minutes. This was the only amount that strongly lowered both blood sugar and blood pressure.
In addition, this walking regimen had a dramatic effect on how the participants responded to large meals, reducing blood sugar spikes by 58% compared with sitting all day.
The team also found taking a walking break every 30 minutes for one minute also provided modest benefits for blood sugar levels throughout the day, while walking every 60 minutes (either for one minute or five minutes) provided no benefit.
All amounts of walking significantly reduced blood pressure by 4 to 5 mmHg compared with sitting all day.
This is a sizeable decrease, comparable to the reduction people would expect from exercising daily for six months.
The researchers also found all walking regimens, except walking one minute every hour, led to big decreases in fatigue and strong improvements in mood. None of the walking regimens influenced cognition.
The team says for optimal health, people need to move regularly at work, in addition to a daily exercise routine.
Even small amounts of walking spread throughout the workday can significantly lower the risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
If you care about wellness, please read studies about drugs that could boost muscle growth and prevent aging and common exercises that could protect against cognitive decline.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about plant nutrients that could help reduce high blood pressure, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.
The study was conducted by Keith Diaz et al and published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
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