Office work can have a devastating impact on our health, and encouraging people to sit in a chair for hours on end can put them at high risk of serious illness. However, it seems that a solution has been discovered.
A new analysis shows that a short leg movement could lessen the negative effects of sedentarism by keeping muscle metabolism active.
This is the soleus muscle, the largest muscle on the bottom of the legs. This is a very strong muscle that doctors say is crucial for walking, running and jumping. Now, scientists have revealed how its metabolic potential can be activated through a movement they’ve dubbed the “solear push-up,” according to IFL Science.
“We never thought this muscle had this kind of capacity. It is inside our bodies, but no one has yet investigated how to use it to improve our health. (…) When properly activated, the soleus muscle can raise your metabolism and maintain it for hours, not minutes,” said Marc Hamilton, a professor at the University of Houston.
Push-up prescribed by doctors
Blood analysis revealed that this “solar push-up” improved the values in the body by 52%, stabilizing the glucose level and reducing the need for insulin. In addition to these benefits, exercise can also burn fat in the blood; the level of burning was even doubled compared to that of a person who did not perform these movements at all.
Part of the “magic” that the movement of this muscle holds is closely connected to how it keeps itself energized. Instead of using glycogen (a polysaccharide compound) like other muscles in the body, the soleus uses glucose and fat to function without tiring when we walk or run.
“The lower-than-normal glycogen dependence of the soleus muscle helps it work for hours without high effort and without tiring, especially because there is a well-defined limit to muscle endurance caused by glycogen depletion. (…) What we know up to this point is that we are talking about the first sustained effort to develop a type of activity aimed at improving the human body,” added Dr. Hamilton.
The method still needs refinement
However, the solution – as is almost always the case – is still not perfected. Even though the muscle has great potential to improve our metabolism and health, it is not so simple to perform the necessary movement.
“Push-ups look simple from the outside, but sometimes what we see with the naked eye isn’t the whole story. We are talking about a very specific movement that currently involves both experience and wearing a gadget”, says the doctor.
As a result, the team is now working to refine the instructions so that employees who work long hours sitting at a desk can perform the movements without the need for sophisticated equipment.