Do you have a favorite chair at home? I do, and I like to turn it into my command central – I surround it with remote controls, phone, computer, reading material, mail, snacks, and more, all at arms reach. That way, I can ensconce myself and stay there for hours. However, a recent scientific study suggests a compelling reason why I might want to get out of my chair more often.
This small study looked at the blood sugar impact of sitting for hours vs. moving around - even a little bit. Participants were 45 to 65 years old and overweight, but did not have diabetes. The study compared sitting for 5 hours straight vs. interrupting sitting for 2-minute walking sessions 3 times an hour. It turns out that mini activity breaks improved their blood sugar levels after meals. This was true even when the walking pace was only 2 miles an hour.
When you are absorbed in what you are doing, the hours can fly by. Mini-breaks have lots of other benefits, too. Muscles and eyes can feel strain after staying in the same position for long periods. Getting up often triggers better breathing, improves circulation, and reminds us to refresh posture.
Here are some tips to remind yourself to take breaks from sitting:
- Take a commercial break. Television shows often have breaks about every 20 minutes. This is a perfect opportunity to take a walk around your living room for 2 minutes.
- Set a timer. If you plan to be seated for a long stretch, use a kitchen timer or the built-in timer on your smart phone or music player to alert you that it is time for a stretch and a brief walk.
- Drink more water. For one reason or another, many of us avoid drinking enough water during the day. The more you drink, the more often you will get up to go to the bathroom. Invest in a nice glass or mug, and sip away.
Of course, a few minutes of movement a couple of times an hour does not replace the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise we need most days or the week. Yet, this small study shows that every little bit of exercise can help. Share your tips for taking breaks with us!
Wishing you best of health,