Brief strolls can undo effects of prolonged sitting

By Doug Bennett • Published: August 31st, 2015
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

For deskbound office workers, sitting still can be a workplace hazard. The long hours in a chair increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, kidney problems and premature death.

Now, a new study has found that there’s a quick and easy way to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting. Even a few minutes of moving every hour can be enough to ward off the effects of sitting, according to a study published recently in the journal Diabetologia. The formula is simple: For every hour of sitting, replace two minutes of that hour with gentle walking. Researchers at the University of Utah found that these brief strolls will lower your risk of early death by 33 percent compared to simply sitting still.

Doing nothing is a dangerous option. According to the study, for every hour that an overweight person spends watching television, their risk for developing diabetes goes up by 3.4 percent.

As part of their work, researchers looked at activity data for more than thirty-six-hundred people around the nation. Most people in the group spent the day sitting down, so researchers wanted to know if standing, walking or jogging was best at expanding lifespans. What they found was that standing up or changing posture wasn’t enough to reduce the risk of an early death. What did work was brief, low-intensity activities such as a quick walk.

Researchers believe that the reduction in death risk is related to energy balance. Strolling increases the number of calories that the body burns, which can contribute to weight loss and other metabolic changes.

So get up and away from the desk or television for two minutes every hour. After all, two minutes right now could add years to your life.