• Frequent breaks from sitting may improve fasting blood sugar levels and stabilize daily fluctuations, according to a new study
• It only takes 3 minutes every 30 minutes and requires as little as 15 steps
• The sedentary lifestyle has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic
Working from home can derail efforts to remain healthy. Extended periods of sitting — whether at your desk or sofa — contribute to high blood sugar and increase the risk for metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes, in addition to other health issues.
Preventative measures can make a big difference. A new study found that frequent activity breaks from sitting may improve fasting blood sugar levels and stabilize daily fluctuations, and it doesn’t take that long to do — only three minutes every 30 minutes.
If you’re able to stand up and move around every half-hour for a few minutes — mixing in low- to moderate-intensity exercise (such as climbing a few flights of stairs or taking as few as 15 steps) — during these brief breaks, it can help improve your health.
“Breaking sedentary behavior may offer a pragmatic, easy way to interpret public health intervention for improved insulin sensitivity and metabolic well-being,” the researchers said.
Move around, even just a little
The study, published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, followed a group of obese, sedentary adults over a three-week period.
Each participant was reminded to move every 30 minutes through fitness trackers. Participants were split between an active group and a control group.
The active group had lower low-density lipoproteins (often referred to as LDLs or “bad” cholesterol) and fasting glucose levels than the control group. Additionally, active participants had less variability in their daily blood sugar levels. The control group struggled with insulin resistance, in addition to blood sugar control and cholesterol levels.
A few caveats come with the study. Participants who saw the most results put in the most effort to break up periods of sitting, managing 75 steps or more during the three-minute period, which benefitted their metabolisms the most. So while taking as few as 15 steps during these breaks may be beneficial, you’ll want to do more in order to see better results.
The study size — 16 participants — was also notably small.
Why sitting too much is bad for you
Breaking up your day with little breaks could be a big help in curbing the rise of a sedentary lifestyle, which has grown since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Researchers found that Americans had spent an average of six hours per day sitting in late 2020, four more hours than before the start of the pandemic.
Sitting for extended periods, whether at home or at work, could impact both your mental and physical health. Previous studies have linked desk jobs to increased waist sizes, while others found that longer periods of sitting or lounging around can heighten the risk of depression.