If you’re sitting all day, science shows how to undo the health risks. Take ‘activity snacks’ every 30 minutes.


healthA new study shows that a short walk every half hour can help reduce the health damage associated with prolonged sitting.

Mounting evidence suggests that sitting for long periods of time—an unavoidable fact of life for many workers—is hazardous to health. Even for those who exercise regularly.

New research shows that volunteers who got up every half hour and walked for five minutes had lower blood sugar. And blood pressure than those who sat continuously. Researchers also found that one minute of walking every hour helped blood pressure, but not blood sugar. According to a small study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

“If you have a job that requires you to sit most of the day or lead a largely sedentary lifestyle, this is a strategy that can improve your health and offset the. Health damage from sitting,” said Keith

Diaz, lead author of the study. Pare” is an associate professor of behavioral. Medicine at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

It’s not clear why sitting for long periods of time is bad for your health. But Diaz suspects that at least part of the explanation is that we’re not using our leg muscles when we sit.

“Muscles act as important regulators of blood sugar levels,” he said. “If we don’t use them, things don’t work properly.”

‘Activity Snacks’ every 30 minutes
o see how best to combat the harmful effects of sitting, Diaz and his team tested four. Different ‘activity snacks’ in 11 volunteers: one minute of walking after every 30 minutes of sitting.

One minute after 60 minutes of sitting, five minutes after 30 minutes of sitting, and Five minutes after 60 minutes of sitting. The effects of each of these techniques were compared to sitting without breaks.

Each of the 11 adult volunteers came into the researchers’ lab where they sat in an ergonomic chair for eight hours. Getting up only for bathroom breaks and were asked to eat any activity snacks. All 11 ran through the maneuvers, one at a time, as well as an eight-hour period where they only got up for bathroom breaks.

Blood pressure and blood sugar were measured at each stage of the study. The strategy that worked best was five minutes of walking for every 30 minutes of sitting. The technique also had a dramatic effect on how the volunteers’ bodies responded to large meals. Reducing blood pressure spikes by 58% compared to sitting all day.

All walking techniques resulted in a significant reduction of 4 to 5 blood pressure points compared to eight hours of sitting. Every type of activity except walking for one minute every hour led to significant reductions in fatigue and improved mood.

Research shows that walking helps, Diaz said. Though he suspects some managers may frown upon workers walking away from their desks.

“The next big step for us is to change the workplace culture,” he said.

How to Take Walking Breaks at Work

“You can go to a colleague’s desk instead of sending an email,” he suggests. “If you’re on the phone, you can walk. You can bring a small bottle of water to work so you have to get up to refill it.”

Although the strategies suggested in the new study are not replacements for regular exercise. They health can help reduce the damage caused by prolonged sitting, said Dr. Ron Blankstein School.

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

Does standing desk help?
While standing desks have become a big thing, Diaz doesn’t recommend them.

“The science of standing desks is still largely mixed,” he added. “And there’s some evidence that they can be potentially harmful to the blood vessels in your back and your legs.”

A general and interventional cardiologist at NYU Langone Health. Doris Chan says the new study’s findings are meaningful

“I’m really happy that it came out,” he said. “This could be the start of something revolutionary. We just need bigger studies with more people. But it is like a seed that has been planted. It opens the door to all kinds of other research.”

Chan says getting up and walking around every half hour may have other benefits. Such as loosening joints that have stiffened after sitting for long periods of time.

“I hope that employers read this study and remember to allow their employees to take breaks to stretch and move,” he said.

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