Most people spend most of their day in a static position because they perform a sedentary work, such as clerk, cashier, manager, secretary. Playing sports and physical activity once you leave the office or workplace is essential, but it is not enough: to counteract the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle, it is also essential to take breaks for movement during the day. According to a recent study, that would be enough walk 5 minutes every half hour to enjoy important benefits.
The negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle
A sedentary lifestyle, understood both as giving up sport and as a sedentary lifestyle, is one of the worst enemies of health. Indeed, it involves a increased risk of many diseasessuch as overweight if not obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, osteoporosishypercholesterolaemia, anxiety, musculoskeletal disorders, depressiontumors.
That’s why the experts recommend taking advantage of every opportunity to move, to take at least 10,000 steps a day and to practice physical activity at least two to three times a week. Movement, unlike a sedentary lifestyle, is a great ally of the body.
Moving is essential
Unfortunately, most people have sedentary jobs, spending most of their day in a sitting position. It is a deleterious condition for health, which can cause a whole series of negative consequences. Taking advantage of free time to move around and play sports is certainly important, but not enough.
According to a recent survey conducted by a team of US scholarsfrom Columbia University in New York, and published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, there is another good habit that can make a difference: get up every half hour and walk for 5 minutes.
What the new study found
The study involved 11 participants of different ages. The authors asked them to spend eight hours sitting in an ergonomic chair, just like they do when they’re at work. Unlike what they usually do, however, they have not always been stationary: the researchers have invited them, in fact, to take small breaks in movementwalking to the toilet or on a treadmill.
Multiple experiments were conducted, trying each time break patterns of different lengths, for example one minute of walking every sixty minutes sitting, one minute of activity after every hour standing still, five minutes of movement per hour and five minutes of walking every thirty minutes. The aim was to understand what was the ideal “quantity” of movement to counteract the effects of inactivity and sedentary lifestyle.
To evaluate the effects of the walk break on health, the scientists measured several parameters, such as the blood pressure and blood sugarand also asked volunteers to rate changes in mood and tiredness.
So they discovered that the most significant improvements are obtained by walking five minutes every half hour. In fact, even walking for just a minute offers some benefits, but to a lesser extent. Instead, stretching just once an hour doesn’t help, at least according to this survey.
Positive effects on blood pressure and blood sugar
In detail, the study showed that taking a five-minute break every thirty minutes to go for a walk is a move capable of reduce by as much as 4-5 millimeters of mercury o mmHg (pressure measurement unit) the pressure: the same decrease that, according to the authors of the research, can be obtained by doing physical activity every day for six months.
Advantages were also recorded on the glycemia front, i.e. the level of sugar in the blood, especially in the post-prandial values: the five minutes of motion every half hour, in fact, were associated with a 58% reduction in blood glucose peaks after eating.
As anticipated, other parameters were also taken into consideration. Well, also in this case the effects were excellent. For example, mood, tiredness, fatigue, cognitive performance, performance are all improved introducing a regular walk break.
Now the researchers will continue the study, involving a larger number of people, to verify the validity of what has been discovered to date. «To feel good, in addition to regular physical activity, you also need to move during the working day in the office. It may seem impractical, but these data show that small but frequent interruptions are enough to walk », explained the authors after the first results collected.
The useful tips
- Try to walk every daypossibly totaling 10,000 steps.
- Take advantage of every opportunity to movefor example by choosing the stairs instead of the lift.
- Practice one regular physical activityat least two to three hours a week if possible.
- Anyone who spends most of their day in a static position should try to take regular small breaks to move around.
- People who have a profession that requires them to sit, could also perform every hour small mobilization exercisesfor example rotating the ankles, raising and lowering the legs, moving the feet back and forth.
- People who stand for a long time should stretch every hour, for example, by standing on their toes or by rolling their shoulders.