OTAGO, New Zealand — Many office workers have no choice but to spend the bulk of their day hunched over at a desk. While some are turning to technologies like sit-stand desks to lessen the dangers that come from prolonged sitting, a new study finds that simply breaking up these long sitting stretches with occasional brisk walks could help cut one’s risk of suffering from clogged arteries.
Researchers from the University of Otago had previously determined that taking fast-paced, two-minute walk breaks every half hour could lower an individual’s blood glucose and insulin levels. In their latest study, they say that this same practice, along with a daily 30-minute stroll, could also lower triglyceride levels in the blood, slowing potential plaque buildup along artery walls.
What may feel overwhelming, by first thought, is actually quite an easy task that could have long-lasting benefits for workers.
“This approach, if maintained over months or years, may be enough to explain why individuals who regularly break up sedentary time have better cardio-metabolic health outcomes,” says Dr. Meredith Peddie, the study’s lead author, in a university release.
Two-day interventions were conducted for the study, with 36 participants taking part in the experiment. Researchers monitored long sitting time; prolonged sitting time with 30 minutes of constant walking on the first day; sitting with 30 minutes of mild walking intensity; and combining both constant walking and the aforementioned breaks.
On the second day of the experiment, participants’ blood levels were measured for free fatty acids, glucose, and insulin responses over five hours.
Researchers determined that the short, brisk walks or 30-minute of constant movement can improve the metabolism health of people. The result was especially seen when both practiced were completed during a workday.
“We believe there is an important health message here — the traditional half-hour block of moderate to vigorous activity is important, but so is limiting long periods of sitting by undertaking regular short bouts of activity throughout the day,” says Peddie.
This study’s findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology.