New research has found that taking a 5-minute break from walking 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 too long, regardless of general physical activity, is a recognized health hazard associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

New research has shown that taking a 5-minute break from walking after every 30 minutes of sitting can help regulate blood pressure and control blood sugar. The work points out that short exercise “snacks” during the workday can also improve mood, fatigue and well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 2 million deaths per year are linked to physical inactivity. The institution has described sedentary lifestyle as one of the top 10 causes of death and disability worldwide.

The number of people leading a sedentary lifestyle is increasing due to the increase in occupational sedentary behaviors, such as office work, and increased use of electronic devices.
It is estimated that 60-85% of people in the world and nearly two-thirds of children lead a sedentary lifestyle. Researchers and health experts are working to find ways to lessen the harmful effects of prolonged sitting.

A new study from Columbia University in New York suggests that short, regular exercise “snacks” throughout the workday may be enough to counter the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
Specifically, the researchers found that a 5-minute walk every 30 minutes could offset the effects of prolonged sitting. This work was published Jan. 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 implications, contributing to an increased risk of:

cardiovascular disease
high blood pressure
hormone-related cancers

Studies have also shown that people who lead a sedentary lifestyle also have a 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 sit less often during the day and that they should get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, combined with two days of strength training.
Yet, no matter how active you are, studies have shown that prolonged sitting can increase the risk of serious health complications. To help reduce these risks, researchers and health experts recommend getting up from your desk and moving around often.

Short bursts of exercise compensate for sedentary behaviors

For the Columbia University study, 11 participants walked into a lab where they sat for 8-hour sessions.

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

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

Each participant also received standardized meals during the sessions. The researchers also monitored key health indicators at regular intervals, including blood pressure and blood sugar.

Health effects of 5-minute walk breaks

The researchers found that participants’ blood sugar and blood pressure levels were reduced after 5 minutes of walking 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 is that they answered the best way to prevent adverse effects. of the sitting position on health.

“Just as we have recommendations on how much fruit and vegetables we should eat each day and how much exercise we should do, that’s the most exciting part of this job. We finally 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 provide them with advice on this behavior change alone 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 blood sugar spikes after a meal.

Muscles play an important role in our health by helping to regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels, but they must be used and contracted to do this. When our muscles aren’t used after hours and hours of sitting, they don’t fully contribute to blood sugar and cholesterol regulation. 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. Since diabetes is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes, any effort to prevent diabetes will ultimately lead to a lower risk of heart disease. The researchers also found that blood pressure monitoring showed that all exercise “snacks” lowered blood pressure by up to 5 mmHg compared to no walking altogether.

The seated posture creates bends 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 regularly restoring blood flow to the legs.

Over time, the strain on the heart is reduced and this can prevent the development of heart failure or a heart attack. 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 represents 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 working day. With these small changes, everyone can make a difference in their health.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.