Posted on May 07, 2020, 3 p.m.
Many people are looking for ways to stay healthy and fit while most places are closed during the outbreak. Staying home is leading to many people sitting for extended periods of time, even more so than when going to the office. A recent study suggests that home exercise routines with a few moments of high intensity exertions throughout the day may be effective at preventing damage from the excessive sitting.
Even before this outbreak caused shutdowns tens of millions of working Americans were already spending the majority of their days sitting at a desk working at computers, this routine has only been made worse with the shutdowns for many. But it doesn’t have to be this way, especially for those who are willing to be creative and put in a little extra effort in getting those metabolic juices flowing.
The recent study from the University of Texas Austin published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise describes how periodically going full out while exercising for as little as 4 seconds at a time throughout the day can help to significantly decrease the risk of suffering health consequences from excessive, extended sitting. By going full out that means giving it your all such as pedaling as fast as you can on a stationary bike or doing a quick wind sprint or two in your yard.
Excessive sitting is linked to a variety of chronic health consequences such as heart failure and early death, due to the sitting, among other ways, increases the amount of triglycerides in the bloodstream which may be due to the bodily muscles contracting less than they should be and not breaking up the triglycerides to keep them moving.
Even in quick bouts of high intensity exercise can help to make a huge difference in health. This study found these short and frequent sessions throughout the day can all add up to make a significant impact on health, and the benefits are even more substantial than a single moderately paced workout like an hour long run. High intensity exercise means really pushing your body for a short period of time, versus pushing your body for a longer period of time.
8 healthy young men and women were recruited for this study who were asked to spend a full day seated inside a laboratory to stimulate office work, participants only got up to eat or visit the restroom. The next day the participants consumed a high fat breakfast at the lab while being monitored by the researchers over the course of 6 subsequent hours to track their bodies’ metabolic responses to these lifestyle and dietary habits.
Participants were instructed to sit again on another day, but during this session they were instructed to get up for a few seconds each hour and sprint on special stationary bicycles that were equipped with heavy flywheels and non resistance; during their sprints they were instructed to push themselves as hard as they could for 4 seconds, then stop for 45 seconds to rest and repeat that sequence 5 times, once every hour for 8 hours which totaled 160 seconds of exercise for that day. Participants returned the following day and consumed a breakfast shake.
During the latter session the participants arrived at the lab the second day with lower starting levels of triglycerides in their blood, and they burned more fat over the following hours. The first session did not produce these results suggesting that high intensity training for 160 seconds spaced throughout the day is beneficial for metabolic health.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.