Here’s Why You Need to Ditch Your Desk and Walk for 5 Minutes

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A quick, five minute walk each hour can have long-term health benefits. According to recent research from the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle can be diminished by five minutes of activity each hour.

Courtesy: Ginny/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

With so many Americans working sedentary jobs and spending the majority of their days sitting at a desk, there has been much revealed about the effects of this type of lifestyle. There is an increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes and obesity that accompanies this lifestyle, and the widespread effects have been increasing in alarming amounts in recent years.

However, there is a simple and beneficial practice that can dramatically alter these negative effects. By getting up and taking a five-minute walk or performing five minutes of light activity, people can experience increased energy, better mood, and even reduced hunger cravings.

Related: Exercise May Combat Work-Related Stress

A team of researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center and the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute performed a study across 30 adults, testing their energy, mood, appetite and health in various ways.

The group of participants was split into thirds, with the first group remaining seated for six hours straight, rising from their chair only to use the restroom. The second group performed 30 minutes of exercise in the morning, and then remained seated for the rest of the time. Lastly, the third group of participants performed five minutes of activity every hour.

Courtesy: Marjan Lazarevski/Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

These five-minute increments, termed ‘microbouts,’ led to increased energy levels, lessened food cravings and improved overall well-being. While the group of adults who performed exercise in the morning experienced some similar benefits, the effects often wore off later in the day. The steady repetition of the microbouts, however, allowed the benefits of exercise to be experienced throughout the entire day.

“It’s clear that moving matters,” said Dr. Jack Groppel, co-founder of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute and author of the study.

Prolonged sitting has been found to be harmful to the body, even becoming a strong indicator or predictor of obesity. While daily exercise or activity is always recommended, it is becoming more and more clear that 30 minutes to one hour of exercise a day cannot cure the effects of an otherwise sedentary lifestyle. By adding these five minutes of light to moderate activity into each hour of sitting, not only will the cycle of sitting be broken, but the benefits of exercise are much better enjoyed throughout the day.

While the study performed in this instance was limited in size, there are still great things to be considered from it, and a strong encouragement for employers to allow hourly breaks for movement among workers. So stand up, move around, and reap the health benefits.

Marissa DiPietro
Marissa is a health and fitness writer from the Tampa Bay area. In addition to researching the latest trending topics, she enjoys instructing kickboxing classes and posting incessantly to her Instagram account.
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