Counteracting Chronic Sitting

Recently published in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, this randomized crossover study looked at the dose-response behavior in middle-and older-aged adults to prescribed walking during long periods of sitting.

The findings suggest that breaking up sitting time with 5-minute light-intensity walks every half hour can counteract the harmful effects of prolonged sitting.

While there is no specific amount of time spent sitting that puts you in harm’s way, we know that sitting more is worse for you. Thus, it is no surprise that getting up even for a light walk down the hallway every 30 minutes can be much more beneficial to your health. But how does this work? Compared to a controlled trial, walking for 5 minutes after every 30 minutes of sitting a day significantly reduced blood glucose levels. Similarly, systolic BP significantly decreased with 5-minute walks for every 30 minutes sitting & 1-minute walks for every 60 minutes. Along with glycemic and systolic BP responses, fatigue, mood, and cognitive performance all improved with the increases in walking time. Participants, overall, benefitted from more time spent walking. However, any walking break during periods of prolonged sitting is better than nothing!

Overall, this study highlights the importance of finding ways to become more active throughout the entire day, even if it is just for a few moments. There has been a rise in “actively sedentary” lifestyles, which involve engaging in approximately an hour of intense physical activity but spending the rest of the day sitting. However, both daily physical activity and moving throughout the day are essential for maintaining overall health. 

By: Carly Mae Smith, BS

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  1. Breaking Up Prolonged Sitting to Improve Cardiometabolic Risk: Dose–Response Analysis of a Randomized Crossover Trial