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Five-minute Walks Help to Undo Physical Harm from Prolonged Sitting


Researchers have studied the harmful health effects from prolonged sitting. Sitting for hours at a time for work, while watching television or even when driving is associated with risk factors that lead to heart and metabolic disease. It turns out, however, that it’s fairly easy to avoid potential health problems from sitting, simply by taking occasional five-minute walks. The walks, researchers say, don’t have to be fast. And sitters only need to get up and walk once an hour to benefit.


Researchers have studied the harmful health effects from prolonged sitting. Sitting for hours at a time for work, while watching television or even when driving is associated with risk factors that lead to heart and metabolic disease. It turns out, however, that it’s fairly easy to avoid potential health problems from sitting, simply by taking occasional five-minute walks. The walks, researchers say, don’t have to be fast. And sitters only need to get up and walk once an hour to benefit.

Researchers reported their findings August 18, 2014 in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

Why is sitting a health concern? Sitting for long periods of time results in slack muscles, which do not contract to effectively pump blood to the heart. Blood pools in the legs, which affects the endothelial function of arteries, or the ability of blood vessels to expand from increased blood flow.

Researchers analyzed 12 nonobese healthy men, ages 20 to 35, in two studies. In one study, the men sat for three hours without moving their legs. In the other study, men sat during a three-hour period but also walked on a treadmill for five minutes at a speed of 2 mph, at 30 minutes, 1.5 hours and at 2.5 hours. In both studies, researchers measured the men’s femoral artery function at the start, as well as at the one-, two- and three-hour marks.

They found the main artery in the legs was impaired by as much as 50 percent after only one hour of sitting. Walking five minutes each hour prevented drops in arterial function during the three-hour period, most likely because of the increase in muscle activity and blood flow from walking.

Physical therapists are the exercise and fitness experts. They are trained to help people of all ages maintain the strength, agility and mobility necessary not only to live independently but to thrive. For more information about what physical therapy can do to help you, contact A Physical Therapist, Inc.

A Physical Therapist, Inc., is a one-on-one physical therapy clinic in Delray Beach, Fla., and Harrisburg, Penn. For patients in Palm Beach County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Boca Raton or Boynton Beach. For patients in Dauphin County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Hershey and Marysville.

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