Sitting Too Much Is Especially Risky for People With Diabetes


While some animals recline for 18 hours a day, prolonged sitting for humans continues to be revealed as a potential cause of health issues and risk for chronic diseases. In the latest study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, staying seated for a long period of time endangers those with type 2 diabetes by putting them at even more of a health risk.

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In type 2 diabetes patients, remaining in a seated position for several hours can affect blood levels negatively. Blood fat levels can become altered due to this sedentary lifestyle, resulting in inflammation and insulin resistance. These blood fat levels are known as postprandial dysmetabolism. Postprandial dysmetabolism occurs when there is a great increase of lipids and glucose levels in the blood. This can ultimately lead to increased risk of heart disease and is a predictor of cardiovascular health issues. In diabetics, postprandial dysmetabolism is especially risky.

While prolonged sitting causes these blood fat levels to rise dangerously, intermittent exercise is an almost immediate treatment that can reduce lipids in the blood to normal, healthier levels.

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“What we found interesting about this study was that breaking up sitting also reduces levels of lipids (fats) in the bloodstream that are associated with risk for type 2 diabetes and its complications,” said Dr. Megan S. Grace from Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and Monash University in Melbourne. “Our study showed that breaks which include either simple resistance exercise or light walking were generally equally beneficial in reducing blood lipids.”

In this study, Grace and her team brought together 21 overweight or obese individuals already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. These individuals were studied in three different groups, with each session lasting about seven hours. In the first group, the participants were sedentary; they only rose when absolutely necessary. In the second group, the participants were told to walk around for three minutes after every 30 minutes. The third group was to perform light resistance training such as squats for three minutes every 30 minutes.

While seated or immediately after eating, all of the participants showed dangerously high blood fat levels. However, both groups that got up every 30 minutes almost immediately showed a healthier blood fat profile that was less inflammatory.

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“Our current findings reinforce the message that avoiding prolonged periods of sitting, and finding ways to increase activity across the day, is beneficial for health,” said Grace. “In line with the recent American Diabetes Association Position Statement, we recommend interrupting sitting every 30 minutes with a few minutes of light intensity activity, in addition to regularly taking part in a structured exercise program.”

Plasma samples were taken at the start and finish of each seven hour session. The first group, which did almost no movement whatsoever, continued to show an unhealthy blood profile. However, simple intermittent exercise can create a much healthier effect. It is recommended to not only move throughout the day, but also exercise regularly in addition to that.