The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the available evidence regarding the acute effects of interrupting/breaking up prolonged sedentary behavior (SB) on vascular health among individuals at elevated risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D). Searches of MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library databases were conducted on April 7, 2020. Included studies: (1) examined the effect of breaking up prolonged SB in adults with or at elevated risk for T2D and (2) assessed a vascular health outcome, such as blood pressure (BP), flow-mediated dilation (FMD), pulse-wave velocity, or endothelin-1. A total of 20 articles (17 unique studies) were included. Only three studies reported adequate statistical power for the specified vascular outcome. The available evidence suggests that light and moderate intensity activity breaks are effective in acutely lowering BP when compared to prolonged sitting. The small number of studies that included FMD or other vascular outcomes prohibits conclusions regarding the impact of SB breaks on these outcomes. Few studies evaluating the impact of breaking up SB among adults at risk for T2D have included and been adequately powered to examine vascular outcomes, but our preliminary finding, that certain SB breaks improve BP, provides proof-of-concept for this line of inquiry. Future studies should examine both the acute and chronic vascular effects of breaking up SB among individuals most vulnerable to the effects of SB (e.g. older adults, those with T2D), as these individuals are both highly sedentary and at greatest risk of poor health outcomes. PROSPERO ID: CRD42020183423.
Keywords: blood pressure; diabetes mellitus; obesity; physical activity; sedentary behavior; vascular health.