Increasing evidence suggests prolonged sitting – even “productive” sitting, as many of us do at work every day – is associated with profound health risks – even death – compared to more active behaviors. The trouble is, evidence also suggests the solution isn’t as simple as swapping out time sitting with time exercising. You can exercise for four hours a day at the gym, but if the remainder of your time is spent sitting, you increase your risk of developing cancer, heart disease and other entirely unpleasant –and life-threatening – conditions.
Now here’s the good news. If you can’t swap out sitting for exercising, new research suggests a simple solution: taking short breaks from sitting throughout the day. According to the study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, periodic five-minute walks reduce impaired blood flow in leg arteries, which can lead to cardiovascular disease, among other health issues. In the study, improvements were seen in participants who walked five minutes on a treadmill for every hour they spent sitting.
You probably don’t have a treadmill at work, but just about anyone in a sedentary occupation can find a few minutes every hour to get up from your chair, stretch and do a little walking, whether it’s around the block outside your office, climbing stairs if you’re in a high-rise building, or even strolling from one end of the building to the other and back a few times. Talk to your doctor for more information.