Improve Heart Health with Short Activity Breaks

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When I'm busy at work, I can easily go a few hours without getting up to move around. All of a sudden I'll look at the clock and think "Geez, when was the last time I stood up?" So I'll take a quick break, even if it's just to walk down the hall or go to the bathroom. I find those quick breaks give me a quick boost of energy and improve my concentration levels when I sit down to start working again. New research shows those quick breaks might also be keeping my weight in check and improving my health.

Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which involved 4,800 men and women ages 20 and up. Participants wore an accelerometer to measure their walking, running and sitting routines for a week. Researchers found that those people who took the most breaks from sitting (even if they had an office job and were sedentary for most of the day) had smaller waist lines and lower triglyceride levels than those who did not take activity breaks.

What's really interesting is that the negative impact of long bouts of inactivity even applied to those who exercise regularly. So even if you're a regular exerciser, if you are sedentary for most of the day you should still try to get up periodically. According to one of the researchers, "Even if you exercise for 30 to 60 minutes a day, what you do for the rest of the day may also be important for your cardiovascular health." This research suggests that even small changes to a person's activity levels [as little as standing up regularly] might help to lower cardiovascular risk."

At work, take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk down the hall to talk to a co-worker instead of sending an email. Outside of work, park further away in the parking lot or walk instead of using the moving sidewalk at the airport. All of those small bits of activity can really add up.

Looking for more ways to fit short activity breaks into your day? Find out how Small Bits of Fitness Add Up and get ideas for 60-Second Health and Fitness Boosters.

What do you think? If you have a desk job, do you try to fit short activity breaks into your day?