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Three 5-Minute Walks Per Day May Reverse Negative Effects of Sitting

Sitting for long periods of time - as most Americans do every day at work - increases the risk of decreased endothelial function in the legs, high cholesterol, larger waist circumference, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic disease. A recent study suggests that taking as few as three five minute walks could reduce the harm done to leg arteries as a result of three hours of sitting.

Participants in the two-part study included 11 non-obese, healthy men between the ages of 20 and 35. In the first part of the study, the men sat for three hours without moving their legs. The researchers measured the functionality of the femoral artery using a blood pressure cuff and ultrasound technology, which they checked at the one, two, and three-hour marks.

The researchers found that flow-mediated dilation (or expansion of the arteries) was lowered by as much as 50% after only one hour of sitting.

In the second part of the study, the men also sat for three hours but walked on a treadmill for five minutes at a speed of 2 mph at the 30-minute, 1.5 hour, and 2.5 hour marks. Functionality of the femoral artery was also measured at those time intervals and flow-mediated dilation remained the same throughout the three-hour period.

This means that the damage from sitting for three hours - noted in the first part of the study - was not present when the men took the three five minute walks.

Researchers from Indiana University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on August 18, 2014, in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Previous clinical studies suggest that even moderate exercise may reduce your risk of dying prematurely, help with blood sugar control, reduce body weight, improve heart health and improve respiratory health.

Even a brisk ten-minute walk a day can help. Look for ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine; you’d be surprised how many opportunities there are to get up and get moving.

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