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Short walks every half-hour may offset harms of too much sitting
Research we're watching
- By Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
- Reviewed by Christopher P. Cannon, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing
Breaking up long periods of sitting with a short walk every half-hour may benefit your health, a small study suggests.
For the study, 11 middle-aged and older adults sat in a comfortable chair for eight hours a day over the course of five separate days. One day involved uninterrupted sitting with only short bathroom breaks. On the other four days, they either walked on a treadmill for one minute after every 30 or 60 minutes of sitting, or walked for five minutes after every 30 or 60 minutes. Their blood pressure was measured hourly; blood sugar was measured every 15 minutes.
A five-minute walk after every 30 minutes of sitting was the only regimen that notably lowered blood sugar spikes — levels were 58% lower compared with sitting all day. But all amounts of walking lowered systolic blood pressure (the first number in a reading) by 4 to 5 points. And with the exception of walking just one minute every hour, all the other walking regimens helped decrease fatigue and improve mood. The findings were published Jan. 12, 2023, by Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Image: © final09/Getty Images
About the Author
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
About the Reviewer
Christopher P. Cannon, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing
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No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
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Walking for Health
The simple activity of walking has so many powerful health benefits. Done correctly, it can be the key to losing weight, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and boosting your memory, as well as reducing your risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more. Walking for Health, created by the experts at Harvard Medical School, takes you step-by-step from why walking may be the most perfect exercise, to how to get started on a walking program, to specific walking workouts. It even has a special section on walking for weight loss.
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