This 2022 human study investigated the effect of breaking up sedentary time with calisthenics exercises on neuromuscular function during a 4-week calisthenics intervention on neuromuscular function in sedentary individuals. Calisthenics exercises are simple bodyweight exercises that can be performed anywhere, making them an accessible and low-cost way to break up sedentary time. The study found that calisthenics may be effective at increasing muscle strength, force steadiness and dynamic balance all of which might help reduce the effects of the ageing process.
The study involved 17 healthy adults aged 18–65 who spent at least 6 hours per day sitting, and they were assigned to a four-week calisthenics intervention or a control group. The calisthenics intervention consisted of performing up to eight sets of exercises during the working day, including squats, arm circles, calf raises, knees to opposite elbows, and lunges.
Measures of knee extensor maximal voluntary contraction, submaximal force control, and dynamic balance were taken before and after the intervention. Participants were given written and verbal instructions on each exercise, and the opportunity to practice any unfamiliar exercises.
The study found that after a 4-week calisthenics intervention, participants showed significant increases in knee extensor maximal voluntary contraction, decreased standard deviation and coefficient of variation of knee extensor force fluctuations, and increased posterolateral reach in the Y balance test. These improvements suggest that regular calisthenics exercise throughout the day can help mitigate the negative effects of prolonged sedentary behavior on neuromuscular function, which is particularly important for the ageing population.
These findings are important because ageing and sedentary behavior are associated with decreased maximal strength, decreased ability to control force, and decreased ability to maintain balance, which can lead to health complications.
The study concluded that even small changes in activity level and pattern, such as 16 minutes of calisthenics spread across 8 hours, can mitigate the negative effects of prolonged sedentary time. This suggests that even minimal calisthenics training, like in this study, could be a useful intervention to reduce the effects of ageing on neuromuscular function and potentially reduce the risk of future health complications.
Study Title: The Effect of Breaking Up Sedentary Time with Calisthenics on Neuromuscular Function: A Preliminary Study
Study Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9653850