We all know that sitting for prolonged periods of time can be bad for you. But new research has linked extended periods of sitting to high cholesterol, obesity and cardiovascular problems. This is partly because the sitting makes the muscles in our bodies become lazy and stop contracting, causing blood to pool in our legs instead of being pumped back to the heart. This causes instant damage to endothelial function of the arteries, which means that the inner lining of the blood vessels begin to fail at dilating and contracting.
But new research by scientists from Indiana University in the US suggests we’re not all doomed! By simply taking three, five minute walks, we can actually reverse the damage to our arteries caused by three hours of sitting down, the study shows.
The researchers investigated this by diving up 12 non-obese men into two groups. One that sat at a desk for three hours without moving their legs or feet (like most of us do each day), and another that sat at the desk for three hours but then got up and took slow, five minute walks on a treadmill three times during the period. This second group only walked at a 3.2km an hour at intervals of 30mins, 1 hour, 1.5 hours and 2.5 hours during the three hour period.
After the three hours, the researchers used ultrasound to see what state the inner lining of the femoral arteries (main artery through the thigh) of the test subjects. The arteries of the first group of men, who sat for three hours straight, had decreased dilation by an astonishing 50% compared to the start of the experiment. Their rate of blood flow had also dropped.
On the other hand, the group who took three short walks during the three hour test period didn’t experience any decrease in artery dilation. Although this experiment involved a small sample size, the results were so striking that they were statistically significant. The results were published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise.
So, if you ever needed another reason to get up off your butt and start moving more…..this is one more!!
Source: Neomatica, Indiana University