It’s become well established that, in addition to not enough exercise, excessive sitting is not good for our health. Researchers have discovered that it’s not only the amount of time individuals spend sitting down that has an impact on health, but also the amount of breaks that are taken when sitting at a desk or on a couch. Lots of breaks, even if they are only a minute, appear to be good for the heart and waistline.
Prolonged periods of being sedentary, even in individuals who also exercised moderately or vigorously, were linked to worse cardio-metabolic function and inflammation indicators, like larger circumferences of the waist, lower HDL cholesterol levels, higher of C-reactive protein levels and triglycerides.
The waists were smaller and C-reactive protein levels lower even in individuals who spent a long time sitting down when they took more breaks during this time.
The most significant results observed for length of sedentary time were for blood fats and insulin resistance markers. The most significant differences observed for the amount of breaks in sedentary time were for waist circumference. The top 25 percent of individuals taking the most breaks had a 4.1cm smaller waist circumference on average compared to individuals in the lowest 25 percent.
Even small changes, such as standing up for as little as 1 minute, could have a positive impact on health. Regular breaks when sitting for prolonged periods of time could readily be integrated into a working environment and not have an adverse affect on productivity.
Some practical tips to integrate more breaks from sitting into a work day:
- Walking to see a co-worker instead of emailing or phoning
- Stand up when taking phone calls
- Stand when having meetings or encourage regular breaks when having meetings
- Walking up the stairs rather than taking the lift
- Using a bathroom on another level