If you’re thinking about New Year’s resolutions (and who isn’t?), we’d hope that one resolution you make is to move more and sit less at work. Regular readers here know we report frequently on the topic (for example here, here, and here).
But if you were going to make “move more, sit less” one of your resolutions, what would be the best solution: Get in a single strong round of movement, or intersperse frequent (but much shorter) bursts throughout the day?
A recent study may have answered the question.
The journal International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity published a study titled “Effect of frequent interruptions of prolonged sitting on self-perceived levels of energy, mood, food cravings and cognitive function.” The study notes: “While physical activity has been shown to improve cognitive performance and well-being, office workers are essentially sedentary. We compared the effects of physical activity performed as (i) one bout in the morning or (ii) as microbouts spread out across the day to (iii) a day spent sitting, on mood and energy levels and cognitive function.”
The study’s results were clear: “Both ONE and MICRO increased self-perceived energy and vigor compared to SIT. MICRO, but not ONE, improved mood, decreased levels of fatigue and reduced food cravings at the end of the day compared to SIT. Cognitive function was not significantly affected by condition.”
In other words: “In addition to the beneficial impact of physical activity on levels of energy and vigor, spreading out physical activity throughout the day improved mood, decreased feelings of fatigue and affected appetite. Introducing short bouts of activity during the workday of sedentary office workers is a promising approach to improve overall well-being at work without negatively impacting cognitive performance.”
The New York Times reports that “these results suggest that ‘even a little bit of activity, spread throughout the day, is a practical, easy way to improve well-being,’ says Jack Groppel, a study author and co-founder of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute.”
The post continues: “He points out that the walking breaks did not cause people to feel more tired or hungry, but instead had the opposite effect. They also did not alter people’s ability to focus, so, in theory, should not affect productivity (for good or ill).”