Taking a break is the key to shedding pounds
Published 12/01/2011 | 05:00
TAKING regular breaks in periods of sitting down helps keep waistlines trim and is good for your heart, researchers said yesterday.
Plenty of breaks from the desk or sofa -- even for just one minute at a time -- can lower levels of potentially harmful glucose and fats in the blood, and are linked to smaller waists.Regularly moving around also cuts the presence of C-reactive proteins, high levels of which are linked to inflammation and heart disease.
Experts found that people who took the highest number of breaks had, on average, a 4.1cm lower waist circumference than those who took the fewest.
But those who sit around and rarely get up have more problems, including higher levels of bad cholesterol.
The findings were independent of how much moderate to vigorous exercise people took, according to experts from universities in Australia and the US.
"A break could be as short as one minute and not necessarily entail 'exercise', suggesting that regular breaks from sedentary time are probably feasible in many contexts," said the experts, writing in the 'European Heart Journal'.
More than 4,700 men and women with an average age of 47 wore an accelerometer to take part in the study.
It measures the amount of movement by the body and "surges" in activity.
Participants wore the device on their right hip for a week, with experts recording data for those days where the accelerometer was worn for at least 10 hours.
Among the study group, the least amount of time spent sitting was 1.8 hours per day and the most 21.2 hours per day.
The lowest number of breaks over the week was 99, and the most was 1,258.
Dr Genevieve Healy, from the University of Queensland, who led the study, said: "The benefits of regular participation in moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise are well accepted scientifically and by the general public.
"However, the potential adverse health impact of prolonged sitting (which is something that we do on average for more than half of our day), is only just being realised.
"Our research highlights the importance of considering prolonged sedentary time as a distinct health risk behaviour.
"The findings are likely to have implications for settings where prolonged sitting is widespread, such as in offices.
"Our research showed that even small changes might help to lower this health risk.
"Stand up, move more, more often could be used as a slogan to get this message across," Dr Healy added.
Amy Thompson, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said the study added to other evidence that long periods of inactivity are not good for the heart.