Pedestrian prescription: take a five minute walk every half hour

Scientists have highlighted the health benefits of regular walking for people in sedentary roles

Walking boots

Colombia University researchers have examined the health effects of breaking up prolonged periods of sitting down by taking short walks.

The study, which was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, examined the effects of taking walking breaks at different intervals during an extended period of sitting down.

A group of 11 adults completed periods of light intensity walking over an eight-hour day where they were otherwise sitting down.

Over five days, the group applied variations in the frequency and duration of each walking break.

The first day was spent sitting without walking breaks, while the four other days included breaks where the participants would walk one or five minutes each half hour, or one or five minutes each hour.

The researchers found that higher frequency, longer duration breaks were most effective in targeting both blood pressure and blood sugar levels, while lower doses of walking may be sufficient for targeting blood pressure.

All variations that involved a break from sitting down resulted in a significant decrease in blood pressure compared to uninterrupted sedentary periods.

Study lead, Keith Diaz, shared that people need to move regularly at work – in addition to an exercise routine.

“While that may sound impractical, our findings show that even small amounts of walking spread through the work day can significantly lower your risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses,” he said.