Five-minute walks every 30 minutes can offset the effects of sitting too much

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New research has found that walking for 5 minutes after every 30 minutes of sitting can help regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Westend61/Getty Images
  • Physical inactivity is often synonymous with modern life, with up to 85% of the world’s population leading a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Sitting too long, regardless of overall physical activity, is a recognized health risk associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.
  • New research has found that walking for 5 minutes after every 30 minutes of sitting can help regulate blood pressure and control blood sugar.
  • The work highlights that short exercise ‘snacks’ during the working day can also improve mood, fatigue and well-being.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates around 2 million deaths each year are related to physical inactivity. The institution has described a sedentary lifestyle as one of the top 10 causes of death and disability in the world.

The number of people who lead a sedentary lifestyle is increasing due to an increase in sedentary behavior in jobs such as office work and increased use of electronic devices.

It is estimated that 60-85% of the world’s people and almost two-thirds of children lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Scientists and health professionals are committed to finding ways to mitigate the harmful effects of prolonged sitting.

A new study from Columbia University in New York suggests that regular bursts of short exercise “snacks” during the workday could be enough to counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

Specifically, researchers found that a 5-minute walk every 30 minutes can offset the effects of prolonged sitting.

The work was published on January 12 in Medicine and Science in Sports and ExerciseJournal of the American College of Sports Medicine.

A sedentary lifestyle has serious health consequences and contributes to an increased risk of:

Studies have also shown that people who lead a sedentary lifestyle are also at a higher risk of developing mental health disorders. On the other hand, people who exercises tend to report better mental health.

Reducing sedentary behavior and increasing physical activity is a matter of public health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults try to sit less during the day.

The Physical ANDActivity Guidelines for Americans states that adults should engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity combined with 2 days of strength training each week.

Yet no matter how physically active you are, studies have shown that sitting for long periods of time can still increase your risk of serious health complications.

To reduce these risks, researchers and health experts recommend getting up from your desk and moving around frequently.

For the Columbia University study, 11 participants visited a lab where they sat in 8-hour sessions.

They were allowed to work, read and use their cell phones. During the session, they followed one of five exercise “snacks” as prescribed by the researchers:

  • 1 minute of walking after every 30 minutes of sitting
  • 1 minute of walking after 60 minutes of sitting
  • 5 minutes of walking after every 30 minutes of sitting
  • 5 minutes of walking after every 60 minutes of sitting
  • no walking

Each participant was also provided with standardized meals during the session. The researchers also monitored key health indicators, including blood pressure and blood sugar levels, at set intervals.

The researchers found that participants’ blood sugar and blood pressure levels decreased after 5 minutes of walking for every 30 minutes of sitting.

Lead study author Keith Diaz, Ph.D., associate professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia, said Medical News Today the most interesting part of the new research is that they answered how best to prevent the harmful effects of sitting on health.

“Just as we have recommendations on how much fruit and vegetables we should eat every day and how much we should exercise – that’s the most amazing part of this job. We finally have an answer. There are so many adults who have jobs or lifestyles where they have to sit for long periods of time. Now we can give them guidance on this single behavior change to reduce their health risks from sitting.”

– Dr. Keith Diaz, Ph.D., lead author of the study

The research team also found that a 5-minute walk every half hour led to a 58% reduction in post-meal blood sugar fluctuations.

Dr. Diaz explained the potential mechanism for the biological effects on blood sugar:

“Muscles play an important role in our health by helping to regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels – but to do that they need to be used and contracted,” he said.

“When our muscles aren’t used after hours and hours of sitting, they don’t fully help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels. So we think that regular short walks or ‘snacks’ help activate the muscles to serve as better regulators of blood sugar and cholesterol.”

Dr. Yu-Ming Ni, a noninvasive cardiologist at MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center, who was not involved in the study, explained MNT that muscles are an important consumer of blood sugar.

“Physical activity improves blood sugar levels and may reduce the risk of diabetes,” said Dr. She. “Since diabetes is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes, any effort to prevent diabetes will ultimately lead to less risk of heart disease.”

The researchers also found that blood pressure monitoring showed that all the exercise “snacks” led to a drop in blood pressure of up to 5 mmHg compared to no walking.

“Sitting creates bends and constrictions in the blood vessels of the legs,” said Dr. Diaz. “In other words, sitting constricts the blood vessels in your legs. This eventually changes blood flow and can lead to an increase in blood pressure.”

Dr. Diaz concluded that “regular short walks can help prevent changes in blood pressure by regularly restoring blood flow to the legs.”

Dr. Ni pointed out the benefits of better blood pressure control: “Over time, it puts less strain on the heart and can prevent the development of heart failure or heart attack,” he said, adding that the study has long-term benefits. finding.

“Remember that small changes made over the years can have a lasting impact on health. It may not seem like much to walk for 5 minutes every hour of desk work, but it can add up over the course of a workday. For example, an 8-hour work day represents 40 minutes of physical activity. Add to that a 15-minute walk during your lunch break and you suddenly have almost an hour of extra physical activity each workday. With these small changes, anyone can transform their health – one walking break at a time.”

– Dr. Yu-Ming Ni, cardiologist

The researchers noted a reduction in participant fatigue and an improvement in mood in all walking interventions compared to no walking.

When asked whether short exercise “snacks” can be used to promote mental well-being, Dr. Diaz said:

“Compared to sitting all day, a 5-minute light walk every half hour reduced feelings of fatigue and improved mood. So in addition to improving your physical health, taking regular walks to break up your sitting will improve your mood and help you feel more energized.”

Dr. Diaz added that the next steps in the research include finding other ways to reduce the harmful effects of sitting.

“We’re hoping to find the smallest amount of movement you need to do to prevent harm from sitting,” said Dr. Diaz. “The reality is that many adults will struggle to walk every half hour. So there is still a need to find a more feasible recommendation.”

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