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Incentives for desk-dwellers to get up and move

Otago research provides more incentives for desk-dwellers to get up and move

Taking regular activity breaks while sitting for long periods does not increase your appetite, University of Otago academics have discovered.

Dr Meredith Peddie, of the Department of Human Nutrition, says many people spend large parts of their day sitting at a desk.

Previous research has shown taking a two minute walk every 30 minutes lowers the amount of glucose, insulin and triglycerides in your blood after a meal. However, what wasn’t clear was how this increased activity affected appetite.

``This is important, because if someone is performing regular activity breaks throughout the day, but then going home at the end of the day and eating more, then they are likely undoing some of the positive effects the activity breaks have had,’’ she says.

To address this question, researchers conducted a two-day study of 36 adults, the results of which have just been published in the journal Nutrients.

Participants were either required to walk on a treadmill for two minutes, every 30 minutes, or to remain seated throughout. Their appetites were assessed by questionnaire.

``We found that self-reported appetite scores were not different when people sat all day compared to when they performed activity breaks. We also found that when participants were offered an unrestricted meal at the end of the intervention period, the amounts eaten were the same.

“Performing regular activity breaks increases the amount of activity we do, and thus the amount of energy we burn. In an acute setting our research indicates that this increase in energy expenditure is not accompanied by an increased desire to eat.

``We still don’t know the long term effects this activity pattern may have on regular food consumption and other exercise habits, but these initial results indicate that taking regular activity breaks throughout the day may be a positive way of helping to control weight,” Dr Peddie says.

The team intend to conduct longer term studies to confirm this finding.

* This research formed the basis of Evelyn Mete’s MDiet thesis, and is funded by the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand, Lotteries Health Research and a University of Otago Research Grant. Dr Peddie is supported by a Research Fellowship from the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand.


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