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Sitting is bad for you. The health risks of too many hours of inactivity are becoming very clear. Many in the scientific community have determined that “sitting is the new smoking.” Taking sitting breaks is the best way to minimize the negative health consequences of sitting too much.

Although the health hazards of sitting too much are clear, there are still a lot of questions about how much activity (and how often) is required to counteract hours of sitting every day.

Here are the results of some new research on taking sitting breaks:

It doesn’t take much activity to overcome certain negative health consequences of sitting. Some light activity (standing up and walking around) for just 5 minutes every hour, or for 10 minutes every two hours, yielded these improvement markers:

  • Increase of about 20% in HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Triglycerides (harmful) decreased by about %25
  • Lowered blood glucose concentration (that’s a good thing)

So the bottom line on this is that simple moving for 5 minutes every hour can counteract a lot of the metabolic harm done by sitting all day. If it’s more practical for you to get up every 2 hours, then take a 10-minute sitting break.

Research on Sitting Breaks

Here are some more research-based recommendations for activity breaks during the day:

1) Total sitting time correlates with all causes of death. Basically, the more you sit, the higher your chances of falling over dead from something. This study showed that interrupting sitting every 30 minutes lowers this risk.

2) This study shows that 3-minute activity break sessions every 30 minutes lower blood glucose in diabetics.

Here is another article on the dangers of sitting too much.

How to take sitting breaks

Here are some ideas for simple movements you can do when taking your 3-5 minute sitting breaks:

  1. March in place for 1 minute, then pace around for 1 minute while you catch your breath. Do this cycle 2 or 3 times every 30-60 minutes.
  2. Stand up and walk around while you’re on the phone with someone.
  3. Eat your lunch standing up.
  4. Alternate squats and tiptoes: Do 5 rounds of 10 reps each.
  5. Stand up and do the stretch pictured below. Don’t forget to breathe! Stand on one leg for as long as you can, then switch. Use a chair or desk to help balance you if you need it.

sitting break stretch

You won’t get in shape without a regular exercise program, but these simple activities can help reduce the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle. Any movement is better than none, so if you’re not working out, at least stand up every hour!

If you DO want to get a regular exercise program to get in shape, contact Basics and Beyond to talk about personal training options. We’ve got an amazing staff in lots of locations, and you may be surprised by how affordable we can make one-one-one personal training!

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