Want to counter the negative effects of sitting? Exercise for 3 minutes every half hour
We all know that sitting for too long during the day can have a negative impact on our health. In fact, one study found that too much time on one’s backside can actually negate the positive effects of exercise. But there’s an easy way to counteract this, according to a recent study. It found that standing up and moving for roughly three minutes every half an hour may mitigate the negative effects of over-sitting.
You don’t have to go full Joe Wicks and start doing burpees at your desk to get the benefits. The study found that taking as few as 15 steps during these micro-breaks improved blood sugar control in the office workers taking part. That said, the researchers suggest this likely represents the minimum amount of exercise required; throw in a few stair climbs or jumping jacks for a more challenging workout.
The study was small scale, involving 16 middle-age office workers with a history of obesity who were at risk of Type 2 diabetes. Half the participants continued their usual sedentary routines; the rest downloaded an app that alerted them to move every 30 minutes throughout the workday. This activity ranged from squatting to marching in place to hopping. But they had to take a minimum of 15 steps for the app to register that they’d exercised.
After three weeks, both groups went to the lab for a round of metabolic tests. The control group (who didn’t exercise) displayed ongoing problems with insulin resistance, blood sugar control and cholesterol levels. But the exercisers showed lower blood sugar levels in the morning, a result of their bodies better controlling blood sugar levels during the night. In addition, their blood sugar levels were more stable during the day.
Tellingly, those who exercised the most – averaging 75 steps during the three-minute breaks – saw the biggest gains.
As that study authors note, over-sitting is an area we should all take seriously as its impacts are serious: ‘Every waking hour spent in sedentary postures (that is, sitting or lying) increases risk for metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes.’ If you’re concerned you may be spending too much of your working day sitting, the study authors suggest doing two things: 1) download am app that reminds you to move every 30 minutes and 2) maximise movement outside of the working day.
Now, how about that run-commute?
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