Obese benefit from light activity daily reducing glucose

By Shayna Brouker • Published: June 25th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

A few hours at the gym each week is sure to lead to health improvements for obese individuals. Now, research shows even just two minutes of light to medium activity throughout the day may improve health and wellness, too.

Sitting for long periods of time has become routine, especially in the workplace. To determine the long-term effects of such sedentary behavior on health, researchers in Australia studied a group of overweight and obese adults. Specifically, the scientists looked for the potential health benefits people might achieve by performing small amounts of activity during a typical deskbound day.

Each subject participated in three tests. In order to mimic eating a high-calorie meal, all participants began each experiment by ingesting a drink made of glucose and fat. Then, for the first trial, all had to sit for five hours after consuming the drink, with no activity. The second trial was identical, except every 20 minutes the subjects walked on a treadmill for two minutes. In the third experiment, participants did the same as the second, except the pace of the treadmill was slightly more intense. Their glucose and insulin levels were monitored after each experiment to compare the body’s reaction to the varying amounts of activity.

Even after adjusting for age, gender, weight and glucose levels, the researchers saw a 30 percent improvement in the way the body processes glucose in subjects who took periodic walking breaks during the five hours of non-activity. The more intense workout produced even better glucose management.

If you work in an office, you might not always have access to a treadmill. But that’s not the only way to get moving. Researchers say other methods, like taking stairs instead of the elevator or walking during a lunch break, can help do the trick, too.