New research shows some quick strolls throughout the day could go a long way for your health.
Scientists have known for years that spending too much time sitting can increase the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. But Dr. Keith Diaz, an exercise physiologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, says his new research reveals a simple solution.
“We found a 5 minute light walk every half hour offset many of the harms from sitting,” he says.
The study adds to growing evidence that breaking up prolonged sitting is necessary even if someone is exercising on a daily basis.
Stephan Solomon says he took part in the study because “I had a major change of life. I retired.”
Solomon says without the daily commute to the office or the activities after work, he found himself just sitting around a lot more. “So I have to kind of self-manage this, but in order to do this you have to know what’s helpful,” he says.
Researchers say you don’t need to do anything too rigorous — just a slow walk can make a surprising difference.
“Taking a walking break every half hour and walking for 5 minutes reduced the blood sugar spike by 60%. Those are levels that are similar to what you would see if someone were using insulin injections or diabetic medications to control blood sugar,” says Diaz.
Researchers stress that these short breaks should not be thought of as a replacement for regular exercise.
“I think the goal is for people to be able to say: Based on my lifestyle, based off of the work that I do, this is a strategy that I need to use,” says Diaz.
Another recent study, from researchers at the University of Cambridge in the U.K., reviewed other data on the health benefits of walking and found found that taking an 11-minute brisk walk every day, or walking 75 minutes per week, can lower your risk of stroke, heart disease and a number of cancers.
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