Although a recent study involved children, I think the message is important for all of us.
The study of 28 healthy, normal-weight children found that doing three minutes of moderate-intensity walking every half hour over three hours of sitting led to lower levels of blood sugar and insulin, compared to another day when the children sat for three hours straight.
According to the study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolismn the day the children took brief walks, they did not eat any more at lunch than on the day they remained seated for the entire three hours, .
The findings suggest that brief bouts of activity during otherwise inactive periods could help protect children (and adults) against type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Not only that, but elevated insulin levels can make us tired, disrupt our focus and can hinder concentration; all of which are detrimental to performance.
In our busy lives it can be difficult to fit longer stretches of physical activity into the day. Even if you exercise before or after work, you may still sit or be inactive for long periods, which has been shown to be detrimental to health. This study confirms that even small activity breaks could have a substantial impact on children's long-term health and no doubt it would have the same or more benefit to adults.
Inactivity after a meal diminishes the muscles' ability to help clear sugar from the bloodstream. That forces the body to produce more insulin, which increases the risk for cells in the pancreas to 'fatigue' which can lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes.
These findings suggest even short activity breaks can help overcome these negative effects, at least in the short term.
With a large proportion of children and teenagers overweight or obese, it is important that we encourage them to insert small activity breaks into their day. And for all of us adults, it is even more important that we add in some form activity into days when we are 'at our desk' for long periods. Just a walk around the office or up a flight of steps will help to keep blood sugar levels normal.
What could you add into your day?
Article Author: David Beard, Calico Calico Exercise Physiologist & Healthy Aging Expert