The effects of prolonged sitting and acute exercise on postprandial plasma triglyceride concentration
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These studies investigated the effect of physical inactivity (prolonged sitting) and physical activity (walking, standing, and moderate intensity exercise) on postprandial plasma triglyceride concentration (PPTG). In the first study, we evaluated the effect of low intensity intermittent walking at ~25% VO₂max (WALK) and energy-matched moderate intensity running at ~65% VO₂max (RUN) on PPTG, compared to a sitting control (SIT). RUN reduced incremental area under the curves for plasma triglyceride concentration (TG AUC[subscript I]), compared to WALK by 17.3% (p = 0.04) and SIT by 27% (p [less than] 0.001). The reduced TG AUC[subscript I] in RUN was accompanied by enhanced whole body insulin sensitivity, compared to WALK and SIT (for both, p [less than] 0.05). Whole body postprandial fat oxidation at rest following a high fat test meal intake was enhanced in RUN by 31% (P [less than] 0.001) and to a lesser extent in WALK by 8.4% (p [less than] 0.005), compared to SIT. In the second study, we evaluated 1) the effect of 2 days of prolonged sitting on PPTG, and 2) the effect of 4 days of SIT on the ability of an acute bout of exercise to reduce PPTG, compared to the same days of active walking and standing with calorically balanced diet (WALK+B). To distinguish the effect of prolonged sitting from the excess calorie effect, we had a sitting condition with calorically balanced diet (SIT+B) in addition to a sitting condition with hypercaloric diet (SIT+H). Following 2 days of respective food and activity control, WALK+B was lower in TG AUC[subscript T] by 21.3% and AUC[subscript I] by 17.4%, compared to SIT+H (for both, p [less than] 0.005). WALK+B was lower than SIT+B for TG AUC[subscript T] by 17.7% (p = 0.165) and AUC[subscript I] by 23.5% (p = 0.145) although statistical significance was not achieved. Remarkably, an acute exercise following 4 days of either SIT+H or SIT+B failed to reduce both TG AUC[subscript T] and AUC[subscript I], compared to SIT+B in HFTT1. The same exercise following 4 days of WALK+B, however, reduced both TG AUC[subscript T] by 29% and TG AUC[subscript I] by 32% in HFTT2, compared to SIT+B in HFTT1 (for both, p [less than] 0.02). Further, both SIT conditions reduced relative whole body fat oxidation in favor of increases in carbohydrate oxidation, compared to WALK+B by more than 40% in both HFTT1 and HFTT2. Taken together, our data suggest that 1) exercise intensity plays an independent role with higher intensity being more effective than lower intensity exercise in reducing PPTG, and 2) prolonged sitting with excess energy intake amplifies PPTG and prolonged sitting impairs the ability of an acute bout of moderate intensity exercise to reduce PPTG. This emphasizes the importance of regular participation in moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise and reducing sitting time by increasing non-exercise physical activities (i.e., walking and standing) for the favorable postprandial metabolic health from the individual and public health perspectives.