Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Brief Bouts Of Exercise Breaks From Sitting Shown to Improve Cardiovascular Risk

January 13, 2023

Allied health providers including Physical Therapists in our Boulder and Lafayette Physical Therapy clinics continue to research interventions to improve activity levels of patients. Continued research has documented the negative health impact of sedentary behaviors including prolonged sitting at work. Patients who sit for longer hours each day and/or longer bouts of sitting without movement are at highest risk of these negative health consequences. More sedentary individuals are more at risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and early death compared to their more active peers. A recent study was conducted on how little of an exercise bout is needed to alter the negative cardiometabolic effects.

Duran and colleagues conducted a randomized, cross over study to determine how much activity is required to improve cardiovascular markers (Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise. 2022). Middle and older age adults were randomized to each of the following 8 hour conditions on 5 separate days of data collection

  • 1 uninterrupted day of sitting

  • Walking (1.9 mph) 1 minute every 30 minutes of sitting

  • Walking 5 minutes every 30 minutes of sitting

  • Walking 1 minute every 60 minutes of sitting

  • Walking 5 minutes every 60 minutes of sitting

Authors monitored blood pressure and blood glucose levels throughout the sitting time period and breaks. Authors reported a reduction in blood glucose spikes for 30 minutes after every 5 minute bout of walking. This frequency and duration of breaks showed the greatest reductions in cardiovascular and metabolic markers in the sitting participants.

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