Decreasing the time you sit on the couch just 21 minutes a day can improve your health, say Finnish researchers who set out to discover if reducing sedentary time would harvest any health benefits during one year.
They found that sitting less improved some biomarkers, including fasting glucose levels, and maintained muscle mass during the year.
Office workers with young children participated in the study conducted at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. The participants were randomized in two groups. The participants of the intervention group were provided with counseling to discuss strategies to reduce the amount of time sitting at work and during leisure time. The participants set personal goals that they believed workable.
The most common goal for work time was to break up long periods of sitting while working and during coffee breaks. For leisure time, the most common goals were to be more active during commuting and to increase active time with their family.
After counseling, sedentary time, measured by accelerometers — advanced forms of pedometers — decreased by 21 minutes a day compared to the non-intervention group.
The intervention group's fasting glucose levels decreased slightly, and their Apolipoprotein B-to-Apolipoprotein A-1 ratio, which is a cholesterol biomarker related to cardiovascular risk, improved during the year. At the same time, they maintained leg muscle mass, whereas the control group's muscle mass decreased by a half percent.
"This study shows that it is possible to reduce the sedentary time of people in a busy phase of life," said study author Arto Pesola, Doctor of Sport Sciences.
Studies have shown that increased sitting time is associated with Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and premature mortality.
Other studies have also found ways to improve the health of sedentary workers. Researchers from the University of Missouri have found that fidgeting can help prevent arterial disease by increasing blood flow in legs.
A Danish study found a reduction in body fat after three months of using sit-stand desks.
Taking a stroll at lunchtime can not only improve your health, but can also lift your mood immediately and help you handle a stressful afternoon, according to an Australian study.
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