Ditch the office chair for two minutes to improve health

Get off your backside and move around for two minutes every half hour, for the good of your health.

Otago researcher Meredith Peddie

Dr Meredith Peddie

This message is the key finding from an international collaborative study carried out by Heart Foundation Research Fellow Dr Meredith Peddie, of the University of Otago, with colleagues from the University of Prince Edward Island and the University of Guelph in Canada.

The group reviewed 44 international studies which evaluated the impact of interrupting prolonged sitting.

The results, published in Sports Medicine, reveal that, compared to prolonged sitting, performing short, regularly-repeated bouts of activity lowered the concentrations of blood sugar and insulin in the bloodstream for up to nine hours after a meal.

The concentrations of fat in your blood can also be lowered, although this effect seems to be delayed, only occurring 12 to 16 hours after the activity has been started.

Any activity counts

Dr Peddie says the most interesting finding is that the amount of the reductions in blood sugar, insulin or fat don’t seem to be affected by the intensity of the activity you do, what you have eaten, how old you are, or how much you weigh.

“The current physical activity guidelines to sit less and move more apply to everyone.

“Most of us spend about 75% of our day sitting or being sedentary, and this behaviour has been linked to increased rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and overall mortality.

“We should all be finding ways to avoid sitting for long periods, and to increase the amount of movement we do throughout the entire day,” she says.

The group says more work needs to be done to identify the most beneficial timing, duration and mode of activity break. Strategies need to be developed to enable those who habitually sit for long periods to perform activity breaks as part of their everyday routine.

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