A new review has found that alternating prolonged periods of sitting with regular breaks to get up and move around could help offset the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
The researchers found that taking regular breaks to perform short, repeated bouts of activity lowered concentrations of blood sugar and insulin in the bloodstream for up to nine hours after a meal.
Researchers said that the most interesting finding is that the levels of the reductions in blood sugar, insulin or fat do not appear to be affected by the intensity of the activity performed, what you have eaten, how old you are, or how much you weigh.
Carried out by researchers at the University of Otago, New Zealand, and the University of Prince Edward Island and University of Guelph in Canada, the review analyzed 44 studies that had recruited healthy males and females of all ages, to compare the impact of prolonged sitting for up to 24 hours against interrupted sitting, using various health markers.
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These markers included postprandial glucose (glucose measured after a meal, a spike in which can indicate difficulty in metabolizing carbohydrates and producing insulin), insulin (high levels of which can indicate insulin resistance and contribute to conditions such as diabetes), and triglycerides (a fat lipid in the blood, which is an important marker of heart health).
Concentrations of triglycerides in the blood also decreased, although this effect seems to be delayed, only occurring 12 to 16 hours after the activity.
"We should all be finding ways to avoid sitting for long periods, and to increase the amount of movement we do throughout the entire day."
However, the authors did note that more research is needed to identify the most beneficial timing, duration and mode of activity break.
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