Short Walking Breaks During TV Can Improve Kids' Blood Sugar

Taking quick breaks to walk during periods of watching television can help to improve children's blood sugar levels, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.

When compared with continuous sitting, 3-minute walk breaks during sedentary activities like a TV marathon were associated with a short-term boost in metabolic health, said senior study author Dr. Jack A. Yanovski.

"While we know getting 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity exercise each day improves children's health and metabolism, small behavioral changes like taking short walking breaks can also yield some benefits," Yanovski said.

Short-term breaks are better than nothing

The study included 28 normal-weight children between the ages of 7 and 11. Researchers measured how the kids' bodies processed sugar after either sitting continuously for three hours or sitting for the same amount of time but taking 3-minute walking breaks every half-hour.

Taking short breaks to walk made the children's blood sugar and insulin levels lower than when they sat continuously, indicating that interrupted sitting allows the body to better maintain glucose levels.

"Sustained sedentary behavior after a meal diminishes the muscles' ability to help clear sugar from the bloodstream," said Dr. Britni Belcher, study author. "That forces the body to produce more insulin, which may increase the risk for beta cell dysfunction that can lead to the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Our findings suggest even short activity breaks can help overcome these negative effects, at least in the short term."

Source: Endocrine Society

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