A recent research article published by the American Journal of Physiology in 2021, showed that standing and moving around every 30 minutes for at least 3 minutes, taking at least 15 steps during this time, can reduce the negative health complications of prolonged sitting, such as high blood glucose and cholesterol levels. The findings, which were highlighted in a recent New York Times article, showed that frequently taking small breaks from long periods of sitting time – even by doing fairly low levels of moving – can protect and improve metabolic health.
The research began by recruiting 16 volunteers. The target group were obese adults (18-60 years) who were in a sedentary occupation or unemployed, with both men and women included. Participants were fitted with an activity monitor and a blood glucose monitor. They were then monitored for one week to capture their baseline levels of activity and glucose control.
After the baseline period, participants were randomly allocated into control groups and intervention groups. Participants in control groups continued with their normal lifestyle. However, participants in the intervention group were prompted to take frequent short breaks from prolonged sitting throughout the day. Every 30 minutes participants in intervention group were notified through their smartwatches to take a 3-minute break doing low-to-moderate physical activity. These activity ranged from strolling around, climbing the stairs or it could be as simple as just marching in place for 3 minutes. Participants could track their active breaks through the “Rise and Recharge” app, which was developed in partnership with some of our BeUpstanding investigator team members. After 3 weeks, the metabolic health of participants was measured again.
- Participants from the control group still showed ongoing health problems, such as high blood glucose and cholesterol levels
- Participants from the intervention group, however, displayed a more stable blood glucose level as well as a rise in beneficial HDL cholesterol
Although the changes within the 4 weeks were minimal, this small study demonstrated that metabolic health can potentially improve over time by taking regular active breaks from sitting. These findings provides further support for the regular movement promoted through the BeUpstanding program, and our messaging to get up at least every 30 minutes.
This article summary was written by Rou Jing Tham as part of her placement with the BeUpstanding team.
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