New research has found that taking a 5-minute walk break after every 30 minutes of sitting can help regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Physical inactivity is often synonymous with modern life, as up to 85% of the world’s population leads a sedentary lifestyle.
Sitting for too long, regardless of general physical activity, is a recognized health risk associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.
New research has shown that taking a 5-minute walk break after every 30 minutes of sitting can help regulate blood pressure and control blood sugar. The work suggests that brief exercise snacks throughout the workday can also improve mood, fatigue, and well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 2 million deaths per year are due to physical inactivity. The institution has identified sedentary lifestyles as one of the top 10 causes of death and disability worldwide.
The number of people leading sedentary lifestyles is increasing due to the increase in occupational sedentary behaviors such as office work and the increasing 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. Researchers and health professionals are working to find ways to reduce the harmful effects of long periods of sitting.
A new study from Columbia University in New York suggests that short, regular “snacks” throughout the workday may be enough to counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
In particular, the researchers found that a 5-minute walk every 30 minutes could offset the effects of prolonged sitting. This work was published January 12 in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.
physical inactivity and health
A sedentary lifestyle has serious health effects and contributes to an increased risk of:
high blood pressure
Studies have also shown that people who lead sedentary lifestyles are also at higher risk of developing mental disorders. Conversely, people who exercise tend to report better mental health. Reducing sedentary behavior and increasing physical activity: a public health issue.
The WHO recommends that adults should sit less during the day and get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, combined with two days of strength training.
No matter how active you are, studies have shown that sitting for long periods can 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.
Short training sessions compensate for sedentary behavior
For the Columbia University study, 11 participants went into a lab and sat for 8 hours.
They were allowed to work, read and use their cell phones. During the seated sessions, they followed one of five “exercise snacks” prescribed by the researchers:
1 minute walk after every 30 minutes sitting
1 minute walk after 60 minutes sitting
5 minutes of walking after every 30 minutes of sitting
5 minutes of walking every 60 minutes of sitting
Each participant also received standardized meals during the sessions. Researchers also periodically monitored key health indicators, including blood pressure and blood sugar.
Health effects of 5-minute walk breaks
The researchers found that after 5 minutes of walking, the participants’ blood sugar and blood pressure levels decreased for every 30 minutes of sitting. The study’s lead author, Keith Diaz, Ph.D., an associate professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia, said the most interesting part of the new research was that it answered how best to prevent the harmful effects of sitting on health.
“Just as we have recommendations for how much fruit and veg to eat each day and how much exercise we should get, that’s the most exciting part of this job. Finally we have an answer. There are so many adults who have jobs or lifestyles that require them to sit still for long periods of time. We can now advise them alone on this behavior change to reduce their health risks from sitting. »
The research team also found that a 5-minute walk every half hour resulted in a 58% reduction in post-meal blood sugar spikes.
Muscles play an important role in our health by helping to regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels, but they need to be used and contracted to do this. When our muscles aren’t engaged after hours of sitting, they don’t fully contribute to the regulation of blood sugar and cholesterol. Researchers therefore believe that regular short walks or “active snacks” help activate muscles to better regulate blood sugar and cholesterol.
Physical activity improves blood sugar and can reduce the risk of diabetes. Because diabetes is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes, any effort to prevent diabetes will ultimately result in a reduced risk of heart disease. The researchers also found that blood pressure monitoring showed that all exercise “snacks” reduced blood pressure by up to 5 mmHg compared to no walking at all.
The sitting posture causes curvatures and constrictions in the blood vessels of the legs. In other words, the sitting position creates a knot in the blood vessels of the legs. This eventually alters blood flow and can lead to increased blood pressure. Regular short walks can help prevent changes in blood pressure by restoring blood flow to the legs on a regular basis.
Over time, the workload on the heart is reduced and the development of heart failure or a heart attack can be prevented. Small changes made over the years can have a lasting impact on health. Walking 5 minutes every hour of office work may not seem like a lot, but it can add up over the course of the workday. For example, an 8-hour workday equals 40 minutes of physical activity. If you add a 15-minute walk to your lunch break, you suddenly have almost an hour of extra physical activity every workday. With these small changes, everyone can do something for their health.