It is estimated Australians spent 80% of their working day sitting down, which can be 8 to 10 hours a day.
A recent study in Austin, Texas tested whether very short bursts (about 4 seconds) of maximum intensity exercise every hour counteracts the negative consequences of sitting down for long periods.
Past studies have shown single workout sessions may not be enough to help break down the fat in individuals who stay stationary all day.
But first, what happens to our bodies when we sit down for extended periods of time? Despite sitting down being a natural and comfortable default position, it can actually produce many health issues.
Prolonged sitting has been linked to an increased risk of metabolic disorders, including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Another study from the University of Texas found that sitting for excessive periods of time, makes it harder for the metabolism to break up and clear away fat.
Even when study participants broke their long stint of seating with a one hour run, their bodies still showed difficulties breaking down fat.
One conclusion by researchers is that sitting may have changed the physiologies of volunteers in ways that made them resistant to the expected, beneficial metabolic effects of fitness.
University of Texas Dr Coyle said “When you find yourself sitting for most of the day, try to rise frequently and move”.
Obviously, getting up to move all the time isn’t productive nor conducive to working. Which is why brief but intense spurts of exercise throughout the day may be more beneficial.
The study made eight men and women spend all day seated in a lab, only leaving to eat or go to the bathroom. The following day, scientists monitored the metabolic response of the participants when having a high-fat breakfast.
This process was repeated exactly, except for four seconds each hour in which the participants had to sprint on the provided bicycle. They sprinted for four seconds, stopped pedaling and rested for 45 seconds, then sprinted again. This was repeated 5 times each hour, equating to a total of 160 seconds of exercise that day.
The researchers found that when the participants did four seconds of exercise 5 times over each hour, they had lower blood levels of triglycerides (a type of fat found in your blood) and also burned more fat in the following six hours.
How can it be done at home?
Although the participants of the experiment used a bicycle provided that allowed for optimum speed and intensity, this method of exercise can still be implemented at home.
If you have stairs, they will work. Running up and down stairs intensely for short bursts is sufficient. Otherwise, running on the spot for a short burst of time can work too.
So next time a study or work break is needed, try incorporate this method… it’ll only take 4 seconds.
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