Spend a Lot of Time Sitting? Take Many, Tiny Activity Breaks for Health

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

A study out of New Zealand shows that taking short activity breaks throughout the day, as brief as 100 seconds every half-hour, helps decrease the level of blood sugar and insulin in the bloodstream. Using 70 healthy adults, the researchers compared the effects of prolonged sitting for 9 hours, a one continuous half-hour break of walking, and regular 1 minute 40 second walking breaks every 30 minutes. The participants drank a meal-replacement beverage during the day at the end of the first hour, then again at 4 hours, and then at 7 hours.

The results showed that the regular activity breaks, even though very short, were more effective than continuous physical activity in lowering blood sugar and insulin levels.

Access study here.

 My viewpoint: High blood sugar, of course, is related to diabetes. Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas to keep blood sugar in check. But you don’t want excess insulin floating around in your body all the time as it has strong inflammatory effects and over time leads to insulin resistance of the cells, a pre-diabetic condition. The researchers need to do a similar experiment with diabetics.

What this means to you: For many people, getting out during the workday to exercise is a challenge. The study suggests that even getting up every half-hour or so to stretch your legs for under two minutes can be a simple and do-able way of helping your body keep blood sugar and insulin in check.

 Recommendation: Can’t be much easier than this. Just get up and do it.

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