Author Bronwyn Kingwell of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes said that they saw some marked blood pressure reductions over trial days when people did the equivalent of walking to the water cooler or some simple body-weight movements on the spot. In the study, participants were men and women, average age 62, who were overweight or obese. About two-thirds of the participants were on medication to control blood pressure during the study.
‘When people with Type 2 diabetes did the equivalent of walking to the water cooler or some simple body-weight movements on the spot, their blood pressure level dropped compared to those who do not wish to move at all.’
Researchers checked blood pressure and blood norepinephrine levels at regular intervals across the day. For light-intensity walking, participants took a slow, easy stroll on a treadmill. For simple resistance activities, they did half-squats, calf raises, knee raises, or gluteal muscle squeezes.
The researchers found that light walking was linked to an average 10-point drop in systolic blood pressure and simple resistance activities were associated with an average 12-point drop in systolic blood pressure. Kingwell said that muscles activated when you move, increase blood sugar uptake, which was especially important among people with Type 2 diabetes since their bodies couldn't make enough insulin to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
He added that the parallel lowering in norepinephrine levels were also an intriguing candidate in relation to the blood pressure. Kingwell concluded that light activity breaks were not meant to replace regular, purposeful exercise. However, they might be a practical solution to cut down sitting time, especially if you were at your desk all day.