Breaking up sedentary time with seated upper body activity can regulate metabolic health in obese high risk adults: A randomised crossover trial

Aims: To investigate the impact of performing short bouts of seated upper body activity on postprandial blood glucose and insulin levels during prolonged sitting. Materials and methods: Participants undertook two 7·5 hour experimental conditions in a randomised order: 1) prolonged sitting only 2) sitting interspersed with 5 minutes of seated arm ergometry every 30 minutes. Blood samples were obtained while fasting and throughout the postprandial period following ingestion of two standardised meals. Incremental Area Under the Curve (iAUC) was calculated for glucose and insulin throughout each experimental condition. Paired samples t-test assessed the difference in iAUC data between conditions for glucose (primary outcome) and insulin (secondary outcome). Results: Thirteen obese adults (7 female; 6 male; age: 66 ± 6 years, BMI: 33.8 ± 3.8 kg/m2 (mean ± SD) completed this investigation. Compared with the prolonged sitting only condition, the implementation of seated arm ergometry every 30 minutes significantly reduced mean [95% CI] blood glucose iAUC (from 7.4 [5.2, 9.5] mmol·L-1·h to 3.1 [1.3, 5.0] mmol·L-1·h, p = 0.001). Significant reductions in mean insulin iAUC (from 696 [359, 1032] mU⋅L-1 ⋅h to 554 [298, 811] mU⋅L-1 ⋅h, p = 0.047) were also observed. Conclusion: Performing short bouts of arm ergometry during prolonged sitting attenuated postprandial glycaemia despite maintaining a seated posture. This may have clinical significance for those with weight bearing difficulty who may struggle with postural change.