Get On Up! Sitting All Day Can Be Deadly, Short Walks Every Half-Hour Provide Powerful Health Benefits


A recent study found that people who sit for more than 8 to 12 hours a day, regardless of whether they go to the gym and work out like mad before or afterwards, are twice as likely to die earlier than those who sit less. 

The new study found that you can cut that risk with small amounts of activity like easy walking throughout the day.  

Keith Diaz, Ph.D., a researcher at Columbia University Medical Center and his colleagues recruited volunteers to come in and, well, sit.

“They’d come in and sit for eight hours,” Diaz told NPR. The volunteers were hooked up to continuous glucose monitors to measure blood sugar levels and their blood pressure was also measured. Then the volunteers took walking breaks of varying lengths and frequency. 

“We found that a five minute walk every half-hour was able to offset a lot of the harms of sitting,” Diaz said. “We were really struck by just how powerful the effects were.” 

People who moved five minutes every half-hour saw blood sugar spikes after a meal reduced by almost 60%.

“This is surprising to me,” said Robert Sallis, MD at Kaiser Permanente and past president of the American College of Sports Medicine. While it is known that exercise can help control blood sugar, Sallis said what’s new here is how beneficial frequent, short bouts of movement can be. “I have never seen that kind of a drop in blood sugar, other than with medication.” 

The findings of the study were published in the journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

The results are especially important in view of the fact that one in every three adults in the U.S. has prediabetes and nearly half have elevated blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both conditions increase the risk of heart disease, which is the top cause of death in the U.S. So, it seems that many people can benefit from small, frequent movement breaks.

“I think it’s easier to find small amounts of time to get some exercise,” Sallis said.

And if you don’t feel like walking, you can always get up and take dance break with Bruno Mars.


Photo by Kaique Rocha on Pexels


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