Sitting All Day Is Terrible for You. Here's a Simple Thing You Can Do to Fix It


The news: For all the desk-bound students and office drones out there — a quick walk around the block can do wonders for your body.

A new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise says that one five-minute walk after an hour of sitting can counteract side effects like "higher rates of chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, to immediate effects such as strained and sore muscles," all of which have been linked to too much sitting, as Mic's Erin Brodwin previously reported.

"There is plenty of epidemiological evidence linking sitting time to various chronic diseases and linking breaking sitting time to beneficial cardiovascular effects, but there is very little experimental evidence," study lead Saurabh Thosar said in a press release.

"We have shown that prolonged sitting impairs endothelial function, which is an early marker of cardiovascular disease, and that breaking sitting time prevents the decline in that function," he added.

The study: In order to determine the effects of sitting, researchers at Indiana University conducted two randomized trials with 11 young, healthy, non-obese men. 

In the first trial, the subjects were forced to sit for three hours without moving their legs; after just an hour, researchers observed that the men's leg arteries' ability to expand decreased by as much as 50%.

For the second trial, the subjects were told to take five-minute at the 30-minute, 1.5-hour, and 2.5-hour marks. During these breaks, they got on the treadmill and slowly walked at the pace of 2 mph; according to the researchers, these subjects had no such reduction in arterial expansion.


A short walk can make a big difference. While the study's findings are obviously still limited and preliminary, they are just another sign that walking really is good for you. Previous research indicates that walking can even be a better cardiovascular exercise than running, while a 2012 Stanford study has found that walking boosts creative output.

"American adults sit for approximately eight hours a day," Thosar said. "The impairment in endothelial function is significant after just one hour of sitting. It is interesting to see that light physical activity can help in preventing this impairment."

So stretch out those legs and give them a light workout before you get back to work.