INTERRUPTING SEDENTARY BEHAVIOR
Most American adults sit for nine to 12 hours a day. Even active adults who exercise on a regular basis can spend a majority of the day seated. While exercise is important, it is not enough to undo our lifestyle of sitting. As more and more evidence links sedentary lifestyles to cardiovascular diseases, the question is, “How can we break it up?”
A research team at Western State Colorado University worked with a group of active middle-aged and older adults who reported at least six hours a day of sedentary behavior. By creating Sedentary Interruption Bouts (SIB), the team hoped to see improvements in metabolic health. What they found was really inspiring. By interrupting an hour of sedentary behavior with five minutes of low-intensity movement, HDL (“good”) cholesterol improved by 21.2%, triglycerides decreased by 24.6%, and blood glucose decreased by 6.1%.
If getting up every hour doesn’t fit into your schedule, that’s no problem. Ten minutes of low-intensity movement for every two hours seated showed similar improvements: HDL cholesterol improved by 18.4%, triglycerides decreased 23%, and blood glucose decreased by 7.8%.
HDL, triglycerides, and glucose are risk factors for Metabolic Syndrome, which is a symptomless pre-cursor to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. By improving these numbers, you can dramatically reduce your risk of chronic disease.
What counts as a low-intensity activity? Standing up to talk, standing to file papers, or walking on level ground at less than 2 mph. Think motion rather than exertion. So next time you’re settling in for a Netflix binge, get up and pace during the credits. When you sit down to do your taxes, set a timer for an hour (or two) and then stand up for five (or ten) minutes. Your body will thank you.