Making an effort for daily exercise can reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome in people who are seated for long periods throughout the day, a recent study concludes.
Sedentary behavior and office work has been associated with an increased risk for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of unfavorable markers including abdominal obesity, high blood pressure and low HDL “good” cholesterol, which is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The study examined male office workers ranging in age from 26 to 42. Out of 502 workers included in the final analysis, 201, or 40 percent, did not achieve at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-vigorous activity. Nearly half, 48 percent, were overweight and almost 19 percent were obese.
After adjusting for age, time in the job, body mass index (BMI) and tobacco use, the report found the sedentary workers who met the physical activity recommendations were only about half as likely to have metabolic syndrome, compared to those with lower activity levels.
Workers with higher activity levels were also less likely to have abdominal obesity, high blood pressure and low HDL. Even those who increased their activity slightly (the “insufficiently active” group) had lower blood pressure than workers who remained sedentary off the job, researchers reported in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The conclusion is simple: sedentary occupation workers should break up prolonged sitting time at work as much as they can in order to reduce the risk for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
In an unrelated study another group of medical scientists have found a protein that’s able to detect a change in blood flow during exercise and could point the way to a new Star Wars-inspired drug that offers a workout’s benefits.
During physical activity, as the heart pumps more blood around the body, the Piezo1 protein in the endothelium, or the lining of the arteries taking blood from the heart to the stomach and intestines, senses the increased pressure on the wall of the blood vessels.
In response, it slightly alters the electrical balance in the endothelium and this results in the blood vessels constricting.
In a clever act of plumbing, that narrowing of the blood vessels reduces blood flow to the stomach and intestines, allowing more blood to reach the brain and muscles actively engaged in exercise.
The research team behind the findings, based on mice studies, say this is a big deal because it identifies for the first time a key bimolecular mechanism by which exercise is sensed.
They believe the health benefit of exercise may be linked with the fact that blood flow is being controlled to the intestinal area.
“If we can understand how these systems work, then we may be able to develop techniques that can help tackle some of the biggest diseases afflicting modern societies,” said the study’s lead author Professor David Beech, of UK’s University of Leeds. “We know that exercise can protect against heart disease, stroke and many other conditions; this study has identified a physiological system that senses when the mammalian body is exercising.”
The researchers also investigated the effect of an experimental compound called Yoda1 — named after the character from Star Wars — on the action of the Piezo1 protein.