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10-minute walk break can reverse vascular dysfunction


New York: By breaking up desk time with a short 10-minute walk, you can offset the harm that prolonged sitting causes to vascular health, suggests new research.

“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,” said lead author of the study Jaume Padilla, assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at University of Missouri School of Medicine in the US.

“We also found that just 10 minutes of walking after sitting for an extended time reversed the detrimental consequences,” Padilla noted.

During the study, the researchers compared the vascular function of 11 healthy young men before and after a period of prolonged sitting.

The findings indicated that blood flow in the popliteal — an artery in the lower leg — was greatly reduced after sitting at a desk for six hours.

Researchers then had the participants take a short walk, and found that 10 minutes of self-paced walking could restore 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,” 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,” Padilla noted.

The findings appeared in the journal Experimental Physiology.

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