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Getting out of your chair and moving around for two minutes every half hour provides important health benefits, University of Otago research suggests.
The research was undertaken by Otago University National Heart Foundation Research Fellow Meredith Peddie and colleagues from the University of Prince Edward Island and the University of Guelph in Canada.
"We should all be trying to sit less and move more," Dr Peddie said yesterday.
Most people spent about 75% of their day sitting or being sedentary, and this behaviour was linked to higher rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and overall mortality.
People clearly benefited from undertaking longer periods of intense activity, if they could, but health gains also resulted from briefer, less intense activity.
The group reviewed 44 international studies which evaluated the acute metabolic and vascular impact of interrupting prolonged sitting.
The results, published in Sports Medicine, showed that, compared to prolonged sitting, performing short, regularly repeated bouts of activity lowered the concentrations of blood sugar and insulin in the bloodstream for up to nine hours after a meal.
The most surprising findings were that the extent of the reductions in blood sugar, insulin or fat did not seem to be affected by the intensity of the activity performed, what was eaten, how old you were, or how much you weighed, Dr Peddie said.