Sitting is something we do all too often, and why not? It’s easy, relaxing, and feels good. While there is nothing wrong with sitting from time to time, a lot of us sit for most of the day, and that’s affecting our health.
It’s no mystery how sitting less and being more active can lead to improvements in overall health, but this is often overlooked due to it being time-consuming and difficult. However, according to a new study, simply taking regular short brisk walks or a daily 30-minute walk can significantly lower fatty acid levels in the blood.
Walking improves metabolic responses
Fat found in your blood (triglycerides) can cause clogged arteries leading to chest pain and a potential heart attack. A research team from New Zealand wanted to study the associated risk of prolonged sitting. Their previous study had already proven that when office workers took a brisk walk for two minutes every half hour, their blood glucose and insulin levels decreased.
The team’s new study wanted to expand on their previous work. They found that adding a longer daily walk into their schedule decreased triglyceride levels.
The study involved following 36 participants who completed four two-day interventions. These included either prolonged sitting, prolonged sitting with 30 minutes of continuous walking at the end of the first day, sitting with two minutes of moderate intensity walking every 30 minutes, and a combination of the continuous walking and regular activity breaks.
On the second day of each intervention, subjects blood samples were taken, measuring free fatty acids, insulin, and glucose responses.
Decreases in blood fat from walking
Researchers found that overall, short regular walking breaks and 30 minutes of continuous physical activity had potential to improve people’s metabolic health, especially when combined.
“We believe there is an important health message here – the traditional half-hour block of moderate to vigorous activity is important, but so is limiting extended periods of sitting by undertaking regular short bouts of activity throughout the day. This approach, if maintained over months or years, may be enough to explain why individuals who regularly break up sedentary time have better cardio-metabolic health outcomes,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Meredith Peddie of New Zealand’s University of Otago Department of Human Nutrition.