walk

A new study from Columbia University in New York reports that just five minutes of walking every half-hour can offset some of the most harmful effects of sitting for long periods.

The research team, led by Keith Diaz, PhD, an associate professor of behavioural medicine at Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, tested five different exercise “snacks”.

They included one minute of walking after every 30 minutes of sitting, one minute after 60 minutes, five minutes every 30 minutes, five minutes every 60 minutes, and no walking.

“If we hadn’t compared multiple options and varied the frequency and duration of the exercise, we would have only been able to provide people with our best guesses of the optimal routine,” Diaz said in a statement.

The need to sit less

There’s plenty of research that concludes that prolonged sitting, like that done in office settings, is a health hazard, even for those who exercise regularly.

Doctors advise adults to move more and sit less.

The question then becomes how to mitigate all that sitting while it happens.

And, according to the new study’s researchers, there hasn’t been much research giving office workers a satisfactory answer.

The new study was small – only 11 adults participated in Diaz’s laboratory.

Participants sat in an ergonomic chair for eight hours, rising only for their prescribed exercise period of treadmill walking or a bathroom break.

Researchers said they made sure each participant didn’t over-exercise or under-exercise. They also periodically measured the study subjects’ blood pressure and blood sugar (key indicators of cardiovascular health).

Participants were allowed to work on a laptop, read, and use their phones during the sessions and were given standardised meals.

Researchers reported that five minutes of walking every 30 minutes had the best results. It was the only amount that significantly lowered both blood sugar and blood pressure.

The walking regimen dramatically affected how participants responded to large meals, reducing blood sugar spikes by 58 per cent compared with sitting all day, the researchers reported.

Taking a walking break every 30 minutes for 1 minute also provided modest benefits for blood sugar levels throughout the day.

How to walk while you work

Perry Mykleby is a certified personal trainer with an orthopaedic exercise certification. Mykleby told Healthline about some ways to mitigate all that sitting is to get a standing desk, even one with a treadmill accessory.

“Take activity breaks at regular intervals,” Mykleby said. “Rather than sitting for long stretches of time, set reminders for yourself to stand up and move around. This might include things like doing deep knee bends (or my personal favourite, Hindu squats). Squats in and out of the desk chair are also an option.”

Mykleby said offices with “cube cities” can make exercise a bit awkward.

“Find excuses to walk around the building, climb stairs, anything that makes sense that doesn’t detract from you doing a good job at what you’re being paid to do,” Mykleby told Healthline.

—healthline.com

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A new study from Columbia University in New York reports that just five minutes of walking every half-hour can offset some of the most harmful effects of sitting for long periods.

The research team, led by Keith Diaz, PhD, an associate professor of behavioural medicine at Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, tested five different exercise “snacks”.

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