Could sofas and chairs be bad for your health? New research suggests that as
time spent sitting goes up, so does a person's odds for type 2 diabetes.
Telling people to avoid sitting might even be more effective in staving off
diabetes than exhorting them to exercise more, the British researchers said.
Patients are typically advised to do moderate-to-vigorous exercise for at
least 150 minutes a week to stay fit and avoid obesity and diabetes. But the
findings from two studies suggest that reducing sitting time by 90 minutes a day
could provide important health benefits.
Targeting the hours people typically spend sitting at home or at work might
be a useful strategy in combating the diabetes epidemic, lead researcher leader
Joseph Henson, of the University of Leicester, said in a journal news release.
"Moreover, sedentary time occupies large portions of the day," unlike that
typically devoted to exercise, Henson added.
What the researchers found
The research involved two studies encompassing 153 adults. One involved
adults averaging 33 years of age, while the other involved older adults
averaging age 65. In each study, the researchers compared time spent sitting or
sedentary, as well as the amount of time engaged in moderate-to-vigorous
exercise, against risk factors for diabetes.
The researchers found that time spent sitting was significantly linked to
higher blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and other heart and diabetes risk
factors, even after compensating for the amount of time spent exercising and the
amount of body fat.
The findings can't prove a cause-and-effect relationship between sitting and
diabetes. However, Henson said they do raise questions about what doctors should
tell patients at high risk for diabetes.
"Diabetes and cardiovascular prevention programmes concentrating solely on
[exercise] may overlook an area that is of fundamental importance to
cardiometabolic health," Henson said. Asking people to exercise more may help,
but "such interventions may be more effective still if individuals are further
encouraged to simply sit less and move more," he said.
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has
more about diabetes