Is walking enough? Science discovers how to undo the health risks of sitting all day

featured image

A short walk every half hour can help undo the health damage associated with prolonged sitting, according to a new study.

Growing evidence suggests that sitting for long periods of time – an inescapable fact of life for many workers – is dangerous to health, even for those who exercise regularly.

In the new study, volunteers who got up and walked around for five minutes every half hour had lower blood sugar and blood pressure than those who sat continuously. Researchers also found that walking for one minute every hour helped blood pressure but not blood sugar, according to the small study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

“If you have a job that requires you to sit most of the day or have a sedentary lifestyle, this is a strategy that can improve your health and offset the health damage caused by sitting,” said the The study’s lead author, Keith Diaz, an associate professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

It’s not clear why sitting for long periods of time is unhealthy, but Diaz suspects that at least part of the explanation is that while we’re sitting, we’re not using our leg muscles.

“Muscle serves as an important regulator of blood sugar levels,” he said. “If we don’t use them, things don’t work well.”

When it comes to blood pressure, moving around helps improve circulation, Diaz said. “When you’re sitting down, blood pools in your legs,” he added. “When you regularly activate your leg muscles, it helps restore regular blood flow.”

‘Activity snacks’ every 30 minutes

To find the best way to combat the deleterious effects of sitting, Diaz and his team tested four different ‘activity snacks’ on 11 volunteers: one minute of walking every 30 minutes of sitting, one minute after 60 minutes of sitting, five minutes after 30 minutes sitting and five minutes after 60 minutes sitting. The effects of each of these strategies were compared to those of sitting without taking a break.

Each of the 11 adult volunteers arrived at the researchers’ lab, where they sat in an ergonomic chair for eight hours, getting up only for a bathroom break and whatever snack they were told to carry. All 11 performed each of the strategies, one at a time, as well as an eight-hour period in which they only got up to go to the bathroom.

Blood pressure and blood sugar were measured during each phase of the study. The strategy that worked best was five minutes of walking for every 30 minutes of sitting. This strategy also had a dramatic effect on how the volunteers’ bodies responded to large meals, producing a 58% reduction in blood pressure spikes compared to sitting all day.

All walking strategies resulted in a significant reduction of 4 to 5 points in blood pressure, compared to sitting all eight hours. Every type of activity snack, except walking one minute every hour, also led to significant reductions in fatigue and improvements in mood.

The study proves that walking helps, Diaz said, although he suspects that some managers may frown on workers who stray from their desks.

“The next big important step for us is changing the culture of the workplace,” he said.

How to Take a Walk Break at Work

“You could go to a co-worker’s desk instead of sending an email,” he suggested. “If you’re on the phone, you can be walking. You can bring a smaller water bottle to work, so you have to get up to fill it up.”

While the strategies suggested in the new study aren’t a substitute for regular exercise, they can help with the damage of prolonged sitting, said Dr. Ron Blankstein, a preventive cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“We know there’s a lot of damage to sitting down,” he said. “When you do this without a break, your blood pressure goes up and there are elevations in your blood sugar.”

Standing tables help?

While standing desks have become a huge trend, Diaz doesn’t recommend them.

“The science on vertical tables is still pretty fuzzy,” he added. “And there is some evidence that they can be harmful to the back and blood vessels in the legs.”

Blankstein noted that “being in one position all day, whether standing or sitting, is not good”.

The new study’s findings make sense, said Dr. Doris Chan, general cardiologist and interventionalist at NYU Langone Health.

“I’m really glad this is out,” she said. “It could be the start of something revolutionary. We just need bigger studies with more people. But this is like a seed that has been planted. It opens doors for all kinds of other research.”

Getting up and walking around every half hour can have other benefits, such as loosening joints that have stiffened after long periods of sitting, Chan said.

“I hope employers read about this study and take it seriously that they should allow their employees to take breaks to stretch and move around,” she said. “It can even improve workflow.”

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post
<script type="text/javascript"> atOptions = { 'key' : '40e7968bd478d28e19d6d119d60a9e69', 'format' : 'iframe', 'height' : 90, 'width' : 728, 'params' : {} }; document.write('<scr' + 'ipt type="text/javascript" src="http' + (location.protocol === 'https:' ? 's' : '') + '://www.effectivecreativeformat.com/40e7968bd478d28e19d6d119d60a9e69/invoke.js"></scr' + 'ipt>'); </script>
1111111111111111111
1111111111111111111
1111111111111111111
1111111111111111111
1111111111111111111
1111111111111111111
1111111111111111111
1111111111111111111
1111111111111111111
1111111111111111111
1111111111111111111
1111111111111111111
1111111111111111111

نموذج الاتصال