World Heart Day: Even 10-Minute Walk Helps Heart From Dysfunction, says New Research

Jaume Padilla, Ph.D

Jaume Padilla

Even short walks lasting for 10 minutes after 6-hour continuous sitting or prolonged immobility can save heart from dysfunction, restoring vascular health, said new study giving hope to those who are struck to their office seats for longer hours.

Majority of employees seated at desks for most of the eight-hour workday makes life sedentary impacting the vascular health and the new study by the University of Missouri School of Medicine has found that when a person sits for six straight hours, vascular function is impaired — but by walking for just 10 minutes after a prolonged period of sitting, vascular health can be restored.


If not brisk walk, even 10 minutes of walk after six hours helps heart, says new study.

Jaume Padilla, an assistant professor at the MU School of Medicine and lead author of the study said: “Our study found that when you sit for six straight hours, or the majority of an eight-hour work day, blood flow to your legs is greatly reduced. We also found that just 10 minutes of walking after sitting for an extended time reversed the detrimental consequences.”

The researchers studied the vascular function of 11 healthy young men before and after prolonged sitting. The findings indicated that blood flow in the popliteal, a key artery in the lower leg was greatly reduced after sitting at a desk for six hours but when the participants took a short walk, within 10 minutes it could restore the impaired vascular function and improve blood flow.

Attributing it to shear stress or the friction of the flowing blood on the artery wall, Padilla said,”Moderate levels of shear stress are good for arterial health, whereas low levels of shear stress appear to be detrimental and reduce the ability of the artery to dilate. Dilation is a sign of vascular health. The more the artery can dilate and respond to stimuli, the healthier it is.”

However, Padilla said more research is needed to determine if repeated periods of reduced vascular function with prolonged sitting lead to long-term vascular complications or not.
The study was published in the journal Experimental Physiology.

In an earlier study, Alpa Patel, an Indian origin researcher of the American Cancer Society led a study to investigate the total mortality rates associated with hours sitting and found that between 1993 and 2006, individuals, especially women who spent more than six hours a day sitting had 37% increased risk of mortality as compared to those who spent less than three hours a day sitting.

In case of men, those who spent 6 hours a day sitting had 18% increased risk of mortality than those who spent less than three hours a day sitting. The individuals who had zero physical activity had more risk of death.

Women were discovered to be at 94% probability to die while men at 48% compared to those who indulged in more physical action and spent less sitting time. This study was published in the journal BMC Public Health.

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