You Really Need To Sit Less When You Have Diabetes

The idea that we need to get out of our chairs more often to maintain wellness is more than the latest health fad.

Researchers and doctors are increasingly convinced that regular non-exercise movements - standing, bending, reaching, walking - are vital for overall well-being, and more specifically, necessary for good glucose metabolism.

A hallmark of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, conditions up to 52 percent of Americans have, is insulin resistance. A person is considered insulin resistant when their body no longer responds adequately to insulin signaling.

According to neuroendocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig, when any organ in the body becomes insulin resistant, it manifests a type of metabolic disease. An insulin resistant liver, for instance, manifests type 2 diabetes, and some research now suggests an insulin resistant brain leads to Alzheimer’s disease—and so on.

The Problem With Sitting

The thought that insulin resistance can wreak so much havoc in the body is scary, yet we can all do something about it by getting out of our chairs more often.

The problem with sitting is the way it inhibits several of our insulin-driven functions, including cell and muscle systems that process glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Fortunately, the simple act of standing up - of changing our posture and bearing our own weight - activates these functions.

“The good news is there are unlimited free opportunities for movement all around us. The key to lifelong health...is to rediscover a lifestyle of constant, natural, low-intensity non-exercise movement...throughout the day, including weekends,” says Joan Vemikos, Ph.D., former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division.

Activity and Blood Sugar

Three recent studies confirm that regular movement is the key to lifelong health, and better blood sugar management:

  • A New Zealand study showed ten-minute walks following meals gave people with diabetes better blood sugar control than a daily 30 minute exercise session. The post-meal walks lowered glucose levels by 22 percent.
  • Other researchers completed a review of 28 studies, and found the more we exercise, the lower our risk for type 2 diabetes. The reduced risk was primarily attributed to exercise helping our muscles effectively utilize sugar.
  • In Australia, investigators discovered people with type 2 diabetes who sat most of the day had riskier blood fat profiles than those who stood up every 30 minutes and briefly moved about. High blood fat is linked with increased risk for type 2 diabetes, and its associated complications.

“Our study showed that breaks which include either simple resistance exercise or light walking were generally equally beneficial in reducing blood lipids,” said lead author of the Australian study, Megan Grace, Ph.D. “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.”

Like It Or Not

Clearly, those of us who only get out of our chair to take a bathroom break, or grab a snack might want to adopt a new mantra, something like, “Stand up often, sit less often, and move more.” Though life has become more convenient with washing machines, dryers, and riding lawn mowers, our bodies are still designed for perpetual motion.

A good rule of thumb that’s in line with the American Diabetes Association’s recommendation is to interrupt sitting every 30 minutes by engaging in two or three minutes of light activity. At the very least we should stand up once or twice every hour, like it or not.

Sources: Mercola Fitness
?Photo credit: mush m.

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