Most workplaces are sedentary environments, and most people spend their days using computers or sitting at desks, all of which researchers say is bad for health.
While several previous studies have pointed this out, researchers at the University of Missouri found in a small study that walking for as little as 10 minutes after prolonged periods of sustained sitting can counteract its negative effects on the vascular system.
“It’s easy for all of us to be consumed by work and lose track of time, subjecting ourselves to prolonged periods of inactivity,” said Dr. Jaume Padilla, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology in the school of medicine at the University of Missouri, in a press release. “However, our study found that when you sit for six straight hours, or the majority of an eight-hour work day, blood flow to your legs is greatly reduced.”
The researchers worked with 11 healthy men, measuring their vascular function before and after a period of prolonged sitting. They found that after 6 continuous hours of sitting, blood flow in the popliteal, an artery in the lower leg, was significantly reduced.
After finding that blood flow was reduced in the the men’s lower leg’s, researchers asked each of them to walk for 10 minutes. The self-paced walking restored the impaired vascular blood flow and improved blood flow.
The researchers acknowledge that reversing the basic sedentary modern lifestyle may not be possible, they plan to conduct further, larger studies to explore whether small bouts of walking can be shown to reverse the effects of all that sitting.
“Studies have shown that sitting less can lead to better metabolic and cardiovascular health,” Padilla said. “However, more research is needed to determine if repeated periods of reduced vascular function with prolonged sitting lead to long-term vascular complications.”