If you sit in front of a computer or desk all day, blood flow to your legs is greatly reduced. In fact, a study published last year found that, in just one hour of sitting, normal blood flow could become impaired by as much as 50 percent.

This means all those hours of sitting can prevent your blood from flowing back to your heart, where it’s needed for your cardiovascular health.

Now, researchers have found that you can restore vascular health by walking for just 10 minutes after a prolonged period of sitting.


During the study, the researchers compared the vascular function of 11 healthy young men before and after a period of prolonged sitting. The findings indicated that blood flow in the popliteal—an artery in the lower leg—was greatly reduced after sitting at a desk for six hours.


Researchers then had the participants take a short walk. And they found that 10 minutes of self-paced walking could restore the impaired vascular function and improve blood flow.

“When you have decreased blood flow, the friction of the flowing blood on the artery wall, called shear stress, is also reduced,” said Jaume Padilla, Ph.D., lead author of the study. “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.”

“It’s easy for all of us to be consumed by work and lose track of time, subjecting ourselves to prolonged periods of inactivity,” he adds. However, studies show that sitting less can lead to better metabolic and cardiovascular health.

If you sit at a desk all day at work, it’s prudent to take a short break every half hour and walk around. Even if you can’t leave your desk, you can “march in place” while reading emails or talking on the phone.


Thosar SS, et al. Effect of prolonged sitting and breaks in sitting time on endothelial function. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015 Apr;47(4):843-9.

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