Stuck Behind a Desk All Day? 100 Seconds to Better Health

While society’s collective exercise conscious has deteriorated, I’m pretty sure we haven’t reached the stage where “typing” is considered vigorous exercise.

Given that so many of us are stuck behind a desk all day (I refer to “us,” but luckily my job is constantly up and down) this creates quite the conundrum. We know we need physical activity and yet the typical desk job that constitutes so much of the workload in a post-industrial economy hardly could be called physical.

Many have resorted to walking around the campus at lunch (many times in groups, collective little ducklings wandering around the decorative lake), but this may not leave time for a healthy, relaxing lunch.

So whatever is one to do?

This particular study begins to find some answers. Researchers looked at a group of 70 adults confined to a deskjob for 9 painful hours (no participants were harmed in the course of this study nor actually chained to the desk by an overly aggressive supervisor). Three different protocols were used by each participants:

  1. Sitting on your ischial tuberosity for 9 hours straight (sign me up for THIS one!!!).
  2. Walking for 30 min and then sitting (basically the equivalent of the lunch walk group).
  3. The other protocol involved walking for 100 seconds every 30 minutes (for the math whizzes, the total exercise would be almost equal in the two groups).
  4. In addition, participants consumed a meal-replacement beverage at the 1, 4 and 7 hour marks.

Given the pretty solid research on short burst aerobic activity (which this was NOT—it was merely walking), the findings should come as no surprise: Glucose, insulin and triglycerides were all improved more by the group that split up the exercise every half hour.

I’m not saying you should keep a jump rope by your desk and hit the play button on the Rocky “Gonna Fly Now” soundtrack right by your desk every 30 minutes, but it has some pretty darn interesting implications. This study did not even look at short burst, it was more the equivalent of walking to the bathroom. If this can make positive changes, think about how much more benefit could be seen with something a little more aggressive.

At any rate, I think it’s time to bring it up at your next staff meeting.

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.