Very Short, Light-Intensity Walks Can Have Big Benefits 

by | Sep 21, 2022 | Exercise

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Most Americans spend too much time sitting. Even very short walks can have big health benefits.

Prolonged periods of sitting have been associated with greater risk of early death from any cause. The link to diabetes is especially strong, according to the director of theYale Medicine Metabolic Health & Weight Loss Program. 

In early 2022, a group of researchers from the University of Limerick published their findings from a review of seven studies that evaluated the benefits of breaking up extended periods of sitting with either standing or low-intensity walking. This “meta-analysis” — a statistical review of several studies addressing the same subject — revealed that light-intensity walks after meals can be an effective strategy for managing blood glucose levels. 

According to an analysis by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four Americans sit for more than eight hours a day, and four in ten are physically inactive. One in ten are both inactive and spend more than 8 hours each day sitting. 

The meta-analysis by the Irish researchers found that periods of light-intensity walking as short as two to five minutes had a greater effect on blood glucose and insulin than standing.  “We would, therefore, recommend light-intensity walking for clinically meaningful reductions in postprandial [after-meal] glucose and insulin when compared to prolonged sitting,” the researchers said. 

The relationship between frequency of breaks and such outcomes requires more study, the authors said, but they pointed out that earlier research found that even 30 minutes a day of low-intensity exercise can have significant benefits. The benefits were greater than those achieved by interrupting prolonged periods of sitting with standing for a few minutes throughout the day, a common recommendation. 

As discussed in an earlier news brief, dietary choices can also affect the blood glucose levels of those who spend long periods sitting. You can learn more about this subject from the eSavvyHealth course Blood Sugar Basics including how to use an inexpensive device to measure your blood sugar levels and gain a better understanding of what’s happening in your body.  

Many other resources are available at the eSavvyHealth website. 

Fundamentals of Health Alliance

Fundamentals of Health Alliance

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The Fundamentals of Health Alliance works to publish useful and reliable information about nutrition and health. Their mission is to empower readers to be informed with honest, non-biased information about food, nutrition and the vital components of health.

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