Few studies have compared multiple options to answer the question most office workers want: What is the least amount of activity needed to offset the health impact of a day’s work sitting down?…
Now, a study by Columbia University exercise physiologists has an answer: Unlike other studies that test one or two activity options, the study tested five different exercise modalities: one minute of walking after every 30 minutes from sitting, one minute after 60 minutes; five minutes every 30; five minutes every 60; and without walking
Each of the 11 participating adults sat in an ergonomic chair for eight hours, getting up only for the prescribed exercise of walking on the treadmill or going to the bathroom. The researchers monitored each participant to make sure they didn’t over or under exercise and periodically measured the participants’ blood pressure and blood sugar. Participants were allowed to work on a laptop, read, and use their phones during the sessions and were provided with standardized meals.
The optimal amount of movement, the researchers found, was to walk for five minutes every 30 minutes. This was the only amount that significantly lowered both blood sugar and blood pressure. Additionally, this walking regimen had a dramatic effect on how participants responded to large meals, reducing blood sugar spikes by 58% compared to sitting all day.
Taking a walk break every 30 minutes for one minute also provided modest benefits for blood sugar levels throughout the day, while walking every 60 minutes provided no benefit.
The researchers also periodically measured the participants’ levels of mood, fatigue and cognitive performance during the test. All walking regimens except walking one minute every hour led to significant reductions in fatigue and significant improvements in mood. None of the walking regimens influenced cognition.
Columbia researchers are currently testing 25 different doses of walking on health outcomes and evaluating a broader variety of people: Participants in the current study were in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, and most did not have diabetes or high blood pressure. high blood
The study was published online in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.