Short Walks Can Reverse Effects of Sitting

Many of us have jobs that require us to sit at a desk all day, and we've all seen the scientific studies that show how dangerous that is for our health. Our bodies evolved to move and stay active, but that's difficult to do in our modern work environment. How does one balance a sedentary job with maintaining your health?

A new study from researchers at the University of Missouri looked into the effects of sitting and health by studying 11 healthy young men before and after a period of sitting.

The researchers found, not surprisingly, that sitting for long periods reduced the blood flow to the legs. A bit more surprise was the fact that prolonged sitting also reduced blood flow to the arms.

The authors then had the 11 test subjects go for a 10-minute walk, and they found that a short bit of movement was able to reverse the effects of 6 hours of sitting. The exercise didn't improve the decreased cardiovascular function of the arms, however.

It's important to remember that the test subjects were young men, so it's uncertain how well a 10-minute walk would work for older office workers, but the study results are encouraging. The take-away from this study is pretty simple: if you have to work at a desk all day, make sure to take some time throughout the day to get some movement.

Other tips:

  • More and more manufacturers are selling stand-up desks that have been shown to alleviate the problems associated with sitting for long periods of time.
  • Make your lunch break an exercise break. Getting some gym time in in the middle of the day can be a fantastic way to energize yourself.

Restaino RM, Holwerda SW, Credeur DP, Fadel PJ, Padilla J. Impact of prolonged sitting on lower and upper limb micro- and macrovascular dilator function. Experimental Physiology 2015;100(7):829-38.