Sitting for work all day? One simple step can reduce your health risk

Take a break from work: A small, new study suggests that getting up every half hour can improve your blood sugar levels and overall health.

Every hour of sitting or lying down increases the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, according to the study authors. But moving around during those sedentary hours is an easy way to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other health problems.

“Breaking a sedentary lifestyle has positive metabolic benefits in the free living, so there is an advantage in not sitting all day – getting up and moving,” said lead study author Dr. Erik Naslund. He is a professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

A modest exercise intervention of three minutes every 30 minutes resulted in a small improvement in blood sugar and blood sugar fluctuations, the results showed. However, Naslund said, “We haven’t seen any effects on longer-term markers of metabolic health such as glucose tolerance.”

Naslund suggested that taking more breaks while sitting would bring greater benefits. “A larger dose of exercise is most likely required for greater benefit,” he said.

Dr. David Katz, president of the True Health Initiative, which promotes healthy living for disease prevention, said, “Although this study is small and brief, it has great appeal to a pragmatist in public health activity to find significant metabolic benefits is a valuable addition to research in this area. ”

“More activity is better, of course, but this study helps democratize the benefits of exercise by showing the clear benefits of a dose that almost anyone could get,” said Katz.

During the three-week study period, Naslund’s team followed 16 obese adults who led a sedentary lifestyle or had a job where they sat all day. A fitness tracker gave a signal every 30 minutes for 10 hours a day, reminding each participant to get up and move.

During these three-minute periods of activity, participants did low-to-moderate intensity activities, such as walking or climbing stairs. The researchers compared those who were active with a group that did not take breaks in activity.

The researchers found that people in the active group had lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and blood sugar levels compared to the inactive group.

The results showed that people in the active group also had fewer blood sugar spikes and dips, possibly due to improved blood flow. However, activity breaks did not improve overall glucose tolerance or the fat in the muscles and may not be enough to significantly improve glucose tolerance, the researchers found.

The study commented on Dr. Len Horovitz, internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City: “Sitting is the new smoking. Don’t consume because you sit all day, it’s a calorie you won’t burn, muscles you don’t use, circulation that isn’t challenged. ”

People should move and keep moving, Horovitz said. “If you stop moving, you freeze to death, which has all sorts of consequences, including your muscles, joints, circulation, and blood sugar,” he explained.

Everyone should exercise 20 minutes three times a week, Horovitz noted, so it’s a good idea to get up and move around regularly while you work. “I have patients who wear an Apple Watch that tells them to get up and walk around every 20 minutes – the more you move, the better,” he said.

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More information:
Jonathon AB Smith et al., Three Weeks from Sitting Lowers Fasting Glucose and Glycemic Variability, but Not Glucose Tolerance in Free-Living Women and Men with Obesity, American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism (2021). DOI: 10.1152 / ajpendo.00599.2020

Contact the Heart Foundation for more information on the dangers of sitting too long.

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citation: Sitting for work all day? One Simple Step Can Lower Your Health Risk (2021, August 16), accessed August 16, 2021 from

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