The healthy recommendation for physical activity has been 30 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous activity. Yet more and more research is showing, that for some of us, it is not enough.
CNN published an article last year calling into questions for those who spend most of their day sitting at a desk: Can Sitting Cancel Out Benefits of Exercise?
This is not new to Dr. Liz Joy, medical director for Intermountain Healthcare Community Health, Health Promotion and Wellness, and Food and Nutrition. She points to numerous studies dating back to 2010 showing the proof.
“Thirty minutes of moderate to vigorous activity can’t undo six hours a day of sitting. The research on that has been pretty well established,” Dr. Joy said.
Avoid Being an Active Couch Potato
An active couch potato is someone who heads to the gym, does the 30 minutes of exercise and then sits for the rest of the day.
The sedentary behavior can work to counteract in the body any gains that activity has achieved. Instead find ways to get out of the chair more often – whether at home or at the office.
Make sure you are up and moving every hour or two. Even for as little as two to five minutes of movement can be helpful.
One opportunity is after a meal. Dr. Joy said that everyone can benefit from the idea of strategic walking especially those with health condition such as prediabetes or diabetes. The idea is that if you take a 20- to 30-minute walk after a meal it decrease peak blood glucose levels after a meal.
“That lower peak of blood glucose results in better control of diabetes,” Dr. Joy said. “You don’t have to walk fast. You just have to walk.”
Weight loss will also go a long way to preventing and beating prediabetes. There are 86 million Americans with prediabetes and many (90%) don’t know they have it.
“Weight loss is the biggest predictor of not progressing to Type 2 diabetes. People who lose 10 percent of their body weight reduce their likelihood of getting Type 2 diabetes by 85 percent,” Dr. Joy said.
The New Recommendation
If you have to sit for a prolonged time, then it is time to use the new recommendations. First, try to stand and walk as much as possible. Park farther away to get some extra steps. Use a stand-up desk.
When working out, shoot for at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity, even up to 60 minutes! Also, two of those workouts should include strength training every week.
For more tips and strategies to move more, check out intermountainlivewell.org.