Many Americans do a large amount of sitting throughout the day. We sit at work then we come home and sit to watch shows on the telly. Throughout the day the average American sits about eight hours. The Washington Post reported on Monday, Sept. 8, that a recent study shows that taking time to move around during long periods of sitting can in fact reverse the negative health effects from sitting.
There have been many studies that show sitting can cause many major health concerns, problems ranging from heart disease to an inflexible spine. Each of these issues are, in part, due to the way we sit: usually at a traditional desk, with a craned neck and in a slouched position. The other aspect, of course, is the amount of time we spend sitting.
Even with exercise these problems remain because of our sedentary behaviors. The exercise that you are doing may not balance out the amount of sitting consequences. So if exercising more isn’t the solution, what can be done to battle these health issues?
A recent study done at Indiana University, which was published in the journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, suggests that breaking up prolonged sitting with activity can help blood flow to the legs. Washington Post noted that “after just one hour of sitting, normal blood flow became impaired by as much as 50 percent, the study found.” These conditions can herald cardiovascular disease.
The 12 healthy participants of the study were placed in two randomized situations. The first group sat for three hours and did not move their legs. The second group sat “but walked on a treadmill for five min at 2 miles/hr at 30 min, 1hr 30 min, and 2hr 30 min during the sitting interval.” Those who walked did not show signs of slowing blood flow.
Saurabh Thosar, the study’s lead author, said, “Walking definitely increases blood flow in the legs. If it’s static and people are not moving, perhaps people are still not using their muscles as much as during walking.”Although Thosar did not compare standing versus walking in this study, a study done earlier this year suggested that using “light-intensity walking” to break up prolonged sitting was shown to improve blood pressure more than sitting continuously and trading off between sitting and standing.
If you are looking for other ways to improve your health and to offset your sedentary behaviors, consider sitting on an unstable object, stretching your hip flexors and switching to a standing desk. Visit here for more information on sitting and activities to do to offset the effects of sitting.