exercise sitting

We all know we need to exercise, but it can be hard to work it into our regular routine. Ironically, sedentary jobs make it both more difficult and more important to exercise.

Sitting for extended amounts of time is common in modern society, so it’s important to understand how to counteract any negative effects it has. Research shows that prolonged sitting can have a detrimental effect on our health, including contributing to high blood pressure, or hypertension. A recent study out of the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia addresses the effect of using regular walking to disrupt long periods of sitting. The researchers analyzed the impact of moderate exercise and short walking breaks on blood pressure.

The study followed 67 adults between the ages of 60 and 74 who were overweight or obese. Some of the individuals, around 40 percent, had  hypertension upon entering the study. Each study participant completed three different one-day assessments. After each session their heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, and other factors were evaluated.

These assessments occurred in the following settings:

  1. Sitting uninterrupted for eight hours,
  2. Sitting for an hour, moderate walking for 30 minutes, then sitting for another six and a half hours, and
  3. Sitting for an hour, moderate walking for 30 minutes, then six and a half hours of sitting, with a 3-minute easy walking break every 30 minutes.

Each participant completed each of the three settings in random order. At least six days passed between assessments to prevent the events of one day from affecting the results on another day.

The study showed that the participants who had any exercise (setting 2 or 3) had slightly lower blood pressure on average. But researchers found the bigger results in women who combined a 30-minute moderate exercise session early in the day with frequent, short exercise breaks (setting 3).

This study was not designed to look at different results based on the sex of the participants. These results do indicate that the different response to exercise among sexes is an important area of study. In addition to differences between sexes, further study will look at other factors that affect cardiovascular risk as well as fine-tuning the ideal timing for exercise breaks during the day.

It’s important to note that each individual only spent one day in each of the study settings. This means the benefits of movement during the day are immediate. We all know exercise is important for our health, but it can be discouraging to wait for visible results such as weight loss or a looser waist band. But this research shows that there are immediate benefits to adding exercise into your day. How can you build breaks into your daily routine to claim these benefits as your own?


If you are worried about your blood pressure or need help figuring out a healthy and safe way to work exercise into your day, please contact one of our Hunt County medical practitioners. We want to help you lead the healthiest life you can!