Toronto, September 21 (IANS) At a time when sitting for long hours at work has become the norm, a new study sheds light on how taking breaks can impact our well-being.
According to researchers, office workers are subject to potential harm due to prolonged periods of sitting, which can account for up to 80 per cent of their workday.
This sedentary lifestyle poses significant health risks, ranging from Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers to high blood pressure and increased mortality rates.
More concerning is the fact that remote workers, growing in numbers since the pandemic, might be even more sedentary than their in-office counterparts.
"It's not just about sitting too much, it's also about the pattern of how you sit throughout the day," said research coordinator Madison Hiemstra at University of Western's Ontario, Canada.
"Sitting for long, unbroken periods can also add increased risk for negative health outcomes," Hiemstra added.
The study, published in the journal Translational behavioural Medicine, explored whether providing individuals with the choice to determine when and how to take breaks from sitting leads to more favourable outcomes than adhering to prescribed strategies.
Participants were split into two distinct groups, those given the freedom to choose their preferred strategies for reducing the time they spend sitting ('choice' group) and those assigned strategies without any choice ('no choice' group). In the 'choice' group, participants could self-select strategies from a list of options or have strategies recommended by experts assigned to them.
In contrast, the 'no choice' group had no say in the matter and were randomly assigned to either pick their own strategies or follow expert recommendations.
Over four weeks, the participants were monitored for the frequency and duration of their breaks from sitting, alongside the overall time spent sitting, standing and moving. The targeted aim was to prompt participants to take short breaks every 30 to 45 minutes, each lasting two to three minutes.
The study findings demonstrated that participants in both groups exhibited an uptick in break frequency and a corresponding decrease in total sitting time over the course of the study. This positive trend reflects the efficacy of interventions designed to counter the detrimental effects of prolonged sitting.
Particularly noteworthy was the 'no choice' group, which not only extended the frequency of their breaks from sitting but also increased their break duration. This outcome shows how people can adapt to break strategies and benefit from them.
The study's foremost recommendation notes that longer breaks aren't necessary to achieve significant health improvements.
Instead, shorter breaks have been shown to strike the ideal balance between enhancing work productivity and fostering lasting behavioural change, all while promoting better health outcomes.