Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Take Time for Activity Snacks

There went another day spent sitting at my computer in virtual meetings with easily accessible snacks in the kitchen nearby. Okay, granted this is not a comparative physiology topic. But it is something many of us can relate to in this age of Covid-19.

In a new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers explored what happens when people seek out so-called “activity snacks” instead of the salty or sugary consumable varieties. In their study, participants were asked to sit for 7.5 hours, much like those of us working from home are currently doing on a regular basis, if not longer. The researchers randomly asked each participant to either just sit all day or take activity snacks every 30 mins in which the subjects either walked or did chair stands. The participants were provided liquid meals for breakfast and lunch after which their blood sugar and insulin levels were measured. They found no changes in the participant’s glucose or insulin following the morning meal. However, when the participants were asked to interrupt their sitting time with either chair stands or walking, they had a lower spike in insulin following their lunch meal than when asked to sit all day. It would seem that simply getting up regularly throughout the day may be a good thing when it comes to regulating blood sugar control.

Now I need to figure out how to schedule random breaks every 30 minutes to get my “snacks”…does walking to the kitchen count?  


JB Gillen, S Estafanos, E Williamson, N Hodson, JM Malowany, D Kumbhare, DR Moore. Interrupting prolonged sitting with repeated chair stands or short walks reduces postprandial insulinemia in healthy adults. Journal of Applied Physiology. 130(1): 104-113, 2021. Doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00796.2020

Categories: Covid, Diet and Exercise, Exercise

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