- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A 10-minute walk through the office cubicles could work a small wonder for the millions of Americans stuck behind desks and subject to the hazards of a sedentary lifestyle. Researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine have found that vascular function - blood flow through the body - is impaired after six hours of prolonged sitting. A short walk, they say, can restore vascular health.

“It’s easy for all of us to be consumed by work and lose track of time, subjecting ourselves to prolonged periods of inactivity,” said Jaume Padilla, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology who led the research. “However, our study found that when you sit for six straight hours, or the majority of an eight-hour work day, blood flow to your legs is greatly reduced. We also found that just 10 minutes of walking after sitting for an extended time reversed the detrimental consequences.”

After monitoring 11 healthy young men before and after a period of prolonged sitting, they found blood flow in the popliteal - an artery in the lower leg - was greatly reduced after sitting at a desk for six hours. Ten minutes of self-paced walking restored the impaired vascular function and improve blood flow.

“When you have decreased blood flow, the friction of the flowing blood on the artery wall, called shear stress, is also reduced,” Mr. Padilla said. “Moderate levels of shear stress are good for arterial health, whereas low levels of shear stress appear to be detrimental and reduce the ability of the artery to dilate. Dilation is a sign of vascular health. The more the artery can dilate and respond to stimuli, the healthier it is.”

Few offices offer standing desks or treadmills; many workplaces are sedentary environments - an estimated 86 percent of Americans have desk jobs.

“It’s important that people understand the effects of sitting on their vascular health. By breaking up desk time with a short walk, workers can offset the harm caused to vascular blood vessels,” the research stated.

The study, which included researchers from the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Texas at Arlington, was published in Experimental Physiology, a scientific journal of The Physiological Society.


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