Are your triglycerides too high? Get up and go for a walk

By Karin Lillis • Published: August 30th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It is well-known that too much sitting, especially for long periods of time, can be bad for your health. Excess sitting has been linked to heart disease, high cholesterol and obesity.

New research suggests that combining short periods of exercise with one longer session might reduce triglycerides — fatty acids that can harden and block your arteries and put you at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke.

In a small study conducted at the University of Otago in New Zealand, researchers found a daily half-hour brisk walk combined with two-minute bouts of moderate-intensity walking every 30 minutes might lower triglycerides. The results appear in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology.

A group of 36 people took part in four activity scenarios over two days — prolonged sitting, prolonged sitting with a 30-minute brisk walk at the end, sitting and two minutes of walking every half hour, and a 30-minute brisk walk and two-minute walks on the half hour.

On Day 1, participants ate breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared according to nutritional guidelines. On the second day, the meal included croissants, margarine and cheese — designed to spike triglyceride levels.

About five hours after eating, the group that took two-minute walks combined with a longer 30-minute walk showed the greatest drop in triglycerides — about 11 percent on average. Those who engaged in two-minute bursts of activity every 30 minutes had a 7 percent drop. Taking just one 30-minute jaunt did not affect triglyceride levels.

If you’re looking for ways to cut fatty acids in your blood, taking a long walk is a good first step, but be sure to fit in a few smaller walks during the day as well.