- The human body is made up of 600 muscles.
- Sitting too much increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and dementia.
- To be less sedentary, consider combining cardiorespiratory activities, such as walking or cycling, with muscle strengthening and flexibility exercises.
We spend too much time sitting. According to ANSES, 95% of the French adult population are at risk of deteriorating health due to a lack of physical activity or excessive sedentary life. To help, you should exercise more, take regular walks, get out of your chair more often, and exercise. Researchers at the University of Houston in the USA have found a simpler solution: they mobilize the soleus muscle of the calf. They provide more details in their study published on the website iscience.
The calf muscle pump to improve metabolic health
The soleus muscle of the calf is located at the back of the leg and extends from below the knee to the heel. It accounts for only 1% of total body weight, but according to the authors it can “Doing great things to improve metabolic health“. To do this, it must be properly mobilized. The scientists around Marc Hamilton, leader of this research, have developed a technique to use this muscle while seated: the soleus pump. In a seated position, feet on the floor and the if the muscles relaxed, you need to lift the heel while keeping the forefoot in place.”As the heel reaches the peak of its range of motion, the foot is passively released to descend.”, describe the authors. This movement increases oxygen consumption and avoids fatigue.
The soleus pump improves blood sugar regulation
In this new study, the authors explain that the soleus pump’s ability to maintain high levels of oxidative metabolism to improve glycemic control is more effective than all currently popular methods, such as exercise, weight loss, or intermittent fasting. “Oxidative metabolism is the process of using oxygen to burn metabolites such as blood sugar or fat“, they specify. This stimulation of the metabolism can last several hours and will mobilize different energy sources of the body: the glycogen used by the muscles, the fats, but also the sugars. “Soleus’ less than normal reliance on glycogen helps him function for hours effortlessly and without fatigue (…) as there is a definite limit to muscular endurance caused by glycogen depletion‘ adds Marc Hamilton.
The unique effects of soleus muscle activation on metabolism
In one test, activating this muscle included a 52 percent improvement in blood sugar levels and a 60 percent reduction in insulin requirements within three hours of drinking a glucose drink. It also doubles the normal rate of fat metabolism between meals, which lowers blood lipid levels. “We are not aware of any existing or studied drug whose effect on increasing and maintaining oxidative metabolism is of such magnitude.”, underlines the lead author. He and his team are working on techniques to teach people to do this movement at home without the laboratory equipment used during the study.
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