A counterbalanced, randomized crossover study in which participants served as their own controls was conducted. Eighteen healthy 19- to 24-year old participants were randomly instructed to follow three activity regimens of four days each with a 10-day washout period in between each regimen. The participants were instructed to sit 14 hr/day (sitting regimen); to sit 13 hr/day and to substitute 1 hr of sitting with vigorous exercise 1 hr (exercise regimen); to substitute 6 hrs sitting with 4 hr walking and 2 hr standing (minimal intensity physical activity regimen).
The researchers collected each participant’s insulin sensitivity and blood lipid levels after each regimen.
The authors found that overall, when participants followed the high intensity, 1 hour a day workout, insulin sensitivity and lipid levels only improved slightly when compared with the sitting regimen. When participants followed a low intensity workout such as standing and walking for a long period of time, insulin sensitivity and lipid levels improved dramatically. Participants burned the same amount of calories in both the exercise regimen and the minimal intensity physical activity regimen.
The study concluded that when energy expenditure is equivalent, longer durations of low-intensity exercise such as standing and walking may offer more benefits than shorter periods of intense activity.
Bernard M. F. M. Duvivier, Nicolaas C. Schaper, Michelle A. Bremers, Glenn van Crombrugge, Paul P. C. A. Menheere, Marleen Kars, Hans H. C. M. Savelberg. “Minimal Intensity Physical Activity (Standing and Walking) of Longer Duration Improves Insulin Action and Plasma Lipids More than Shorter Periods of Moderate to Vigorous Exercise (Cycling) in Sedentary Subjects When Energy Expenditure Is Comparable” PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (2): e55542 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055542
Submitted by Sara DAkroub, PharmD Candidate