Can Minutes of Movement Lead to Better Health?

We all know we sit too much – at our desks, in our cars and on the couch.

A new study, published in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, sheds light on how taking short movement breaks every 30 minutes, can improve some metabolic parameters by lowering fasting blood sugar levels.

Though the study was small and only followed 16 adults with obesity for 3 weeks, it showed that breaking up sedentariness with just minutes of marching in place, climbing stairs, doing jumping jacks and squats or taking as little as 15 steps resulted in some metabolic health benefits for participants.

Not surprisingly, the study also showed better glycemic control with higher volumes of physical activity.

Though all activity counts, more activity helped participants realize greater health benefits.

Whether you feel sluggish from sitting too much throughout the day, want to lower your blood pressure or blood sugar or better manage weight, here are some of my top tips to get you moving more:

1-Understand Risks of Too Much Sitting

Most people are unaware of the negative health consequences of sitting too much – which go beyond not burning enough calories to include decreased energy levels, decreased work productivity, joint pain and stiffness, poor posture and less joint flexibility.

Prolonged sitting is also a top risk factor for developing diabetes, weight gain, obesity, increased blood fats, cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer and even premature death.

Akin to feeling sleep deprived, the feeling of sluggishness brought on by a sedentary lifestyle can also weaken your motivation to eat healthfully and has been associated with excessive snacking.

2-Know Benefits of Nonexercise Physical Activity

The good news is that interrupting your prolonged sitting time with any type of physical activity during the course of your day can add up over time to decrease waist circumference, improve your blood glucose tolerance and help you manage weight.

Here are some examples:

  • Climb stairs
  • Walk and talk when on conference call
  • Walk to talk to co-worker instead of emailing
  • Fidget
  • Push a stroller
  • Play fetch with your dog
  • Grocery shop
  • Vacuum
  • Walk to mail a letter

3-Happy Feet, Healthier You

Getting in more physical activity starts with choosing the right shoes which can either bolster or hinder your efforts.

Different brands of comfort walking shoes are available for both men and women with varying support and cushioning. You really need to try on different brands and walk around for a while to find the right shoe.

Comfortable shoes will encourage you to get up every hour and move more.

Or conversely, uncomfortable shoes may make you want to stay seated.

4-Plan Ahead and Schedule It In

More movement during your day doesn’t just happen because you want it to. Instead, you need to plan ahead to make it happen.

Set a timer on your smartphone or activity tracker to buzz, vibrate or beep if you’ve been sitting too long, or use a smartphone app for reminders to move throughout the day.

Some apps to check out are Stand Up! The Work Break Timer and Encourage: Move More Sit less.

With the right shoes and mindset, you can put a spring in your workout steps – and enjoy it!


Robert Kushner, MD

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