Research Alert

Sitting for long periods is known to have negative effects on metabolic and cardiovascular health. Building on recent work showing that brief bouts of vigorous exercise (exercise “snacks”) can improve fitness, investigators from the University of British Columbia in Canada determined whether stair climbing exercise snacks could negate some of the detrimental effects of prolonged sitting. Young healthy individuals and adults with obesity completed two visits involving either nine hours sitting or a stair snacks condition where they broke up sitting by climbing three flights of stairs once per hour. Standardized meals were consumed at the start and at three and six hours with blood samples taken every 30 minutes for the entire nine hours. Brief stair climbing exercise snacks lowered blood insulin and levels of free fatty acids across the day in participants with obesity, indicating that insulin sensitivity was improved when prolonged sitting was interrupted with as little as 15 to 30 seconds of stair climbing exercise per hour. These findings suggest that breaking up prolonged sitting with brief stair climbing exercise snacks might be a novel, time-efficient strategy to improve metabolic health in people susceptible to type 2 diabetes and spending the majority of days sitting.

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