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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Take a break from sitting down

14th April 2008

People who spend most of their working lives sitting in front of a computer can improve their health with brief breaks and stretches, according to researchers in Australia.


Office workers, couch potatoes, and other sedentary people need to reduce time spent sitting by getting up and using their muscles regularly throughout the day.

According to lead researcher Genevieve N. Healy of the University Queensland in Brisbane, a break can be as light and simple as standing and stretching, but could still complement the health benefits of other forms of physical activity.

Healy's team measured the non-sleeping sedentary and active time of 168 Australian adults to determine whether taking breaks might affect their weight and metabolism.

The participants were already enrolled in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle study, but did not have diabetes.

The group used an accelerometer, worn around the trunk to measure duration, type and intensity of physical activity, and an activity diary the whole time they were awake, for seven days running.

Aged from 30 to 87 years, the group was measured for the amount of time they spent sedentary, at accelerometer counts of less than 100 per minute, and for the amount of light activity they did, defined as accelerometers counts of 100 to 1951 per minute. Moderate-to-vigorous activity was measured as more than 1951 counts per minute.

On average, participants spend 4% of their waking hours in moderate-to-vigorous activity, 39% in light intensity activity, and 57% of their time sedentary.

Their breaks lasted on average less than five minutes, with accelerometer counts of 514 per minute.

The study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, found a direct link between the number of breaks from sedentary activity and lower waist circumference, lower triglycerides and lower 2-plasma glucose scores.

Healy called for further studies to examine the physiological and metabolic responses in larger groups of people during prolonged periods of sitting and regular interruptions with short bouts of activity.

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