Periodic “activity snacks” may help maintain muscle mass

In this instance, the researchers wanted to understand whether breaking up prolonged periods of sitting, a common occurrence in many workplace settings, would increase the ability of our muscles to use the building blocks of protein, called amino acids, from food to help them repair or replace old or damaged proteins.

“This is critical to ensure the body has an adequate quantity and quality of muscle,” says Moore, who co-authored the study with KPE’s Eric Williamson, a recent PhD graduate, Nathan Hodson, a post-doctoral researcher, Stephanie Estafanos, PhD student, Michael Mazzulla, PhD graduate, Jenna Gillen, an assistant professor of exercise physiology, and Dinesh Kumbhare, a scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network, and an associate professor in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine.

They studied 12 people (seven men, five women) across three trials for seven and a half hours each. Participants were subjected to prolonged sitting interrupted every 30 minutes by short bouts of walking or body weight squatting. The activity helped improve the efficiency of dietary amino acids used for muscle protein synthesis – the process to repair or replace old or damaged proteins.

“Our results highlight the importance of breaking up prolonged sedentary periods with brief activity snacks. We believe they also highlight that moving after we eat can make our nutrition better and could allow more dietary amino acids from smaller meals or lower quality types of protein to be used more efficiently.”

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