You know you’re supposed to exercise…
But did you know that even if you do exercise, you can undo it just by sitting too much? You can actually sit yourself sick!
What’s This Study About
What’s the minimum break you have to take and how often do you have to do it to not worsen your health?
A new study found that taking a 5-minute stroll every half-hour you’re seated at a desk was the optimal break to improve cardiometabolic and mental health.
How Was the Study Designed
Keith Diaz, PhD from the Columbia University Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health compared the health measures of 11 adults in their 40s, 50s, and 60s (mean age 57 years) who sat for 8 hours without breaks with the same individuals sitting 8 hours interrupted by taking a 1-minute or 5-minute walking break every thirty or sixty minutes. For the study, the walking break was walking for 1 or 5 minutes on a treadmill without incline at 2 miles per hour.
What Did The Study Show
Dr. Diaz found that participants who took a 5-minute light walk after every half hour of sitting had a 58% reduction in blood glucose spike after eating compared with sitting all day. That reduction was comparable to the type of glucose reduction one sees in a person with diabetes after taking insulin to control their blood sugar.
When it comes blood pressure (nearly half had normal blood pressure, 18% had high blood pressure and were taking medication for it), participants who took a 1-minute walking break every hour dropped their systolic blood pressure (the top number when you get your blood pressure taken) by 5.2 mm of mercury. Those who took a 5-minute walking break every half hour dropped their systolic blood pressure by 4.3 mm of mercury. Those types of blood pressure drops are the kind you would expect to see from someone who exercised daily for 6 months.
After the study, over 80% of participants said they would be willing to continue taking 1-minute or 5-minutes breaks from sitting every half hour or 1 hour.
There were also a few other benefits: Taking those 5-minute breaks after sitting for 30 minutes or 60 minutes not only improved blood pressure and blood sugar levels, the participants also reported more vigor and significant improvements in mood. Similar results were associated with the 1-minute breaks, but not as much as for those who took the 5-minute breaks.
It is possible to sit yourself sick. Or looking at it from the glass half-full perspective, it’s possible to improve your health with just a little change in your sitting behavior.
If you’re in perimenopause or menopause in the workplace and watching your blood-sugar levels or Hgb A1C levels creeping up to prediabetic levels, get up every half hour and walk around for 5 minutes. If your blood pressure is creeping up, getting up every hour for a 1 – 5 minute walk could be enough to prevent you from taking high blood pressure medicine, or lower the dose if you are on it.
It also shows that if you go to the gym or exercise at home each day for half hour to an hour and then sit the rest of the day, you’ve effectively undone all the good you’ve accomplished.
This is particularly important if you are sitting in the workplace for hours on end staring at your computer screen or locked into Zoom meetings all day long.
What is most important about this study is 1) Now you know sitting too long is a health issue 2) Exercising regularly doesn’t undo it 3) Not sitting too long will make you feel better with more vigor and 4) there is a simple, quick and easy fix to stay healthy and avoid sitting yourself sick.