Fitness & Health, Sport & Exercise Science

Have a break, have a quick chat

Taking lots of breaks from sitting at a desk is good for the waistline and heart health according to a report published in the European Heart Journal

Even breaks as short as a minute, to chat to colleague rather than email them, stand up, move around or climb stairs, are of benefit says the study which adds further weight to evidence that sitting for long periods can be bad for health.

Experts found those who sat down for long periods without getting up had a larger waist circumference and lower levels of good HDL cholesterol.

Lead researcher Dr Genevieve Healy, of The University of Queensland, Australia, said: “Our research showed that even small changes, which could be as little as standing up for one minute, might help to lower this health risk.

“It is likely that regular breaks in prolonged sitting time could be readily incorporated into the working environment without any detrimental impact on productivity, although this still needs to be determined by further research.”

Dr Healy and colleagues analysed data from 4,757 people aged 20 and over, who took part in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2006.

Participants wore an accelerometer on their hip which monitored walking or running activity and measurements were taken of waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood fats

Overall, those who took the most breaks from sitting, even if they spent a great deal of time being sedentary, were found to have the smallest waists: participants among the top quarter of break frequency had a 1.6-inch smaller waist than those in the bottom quarter.