Break Up Your Sitting Time with Movement
Adding minimal amounts of daily physical activity can have positive health consequences
If you have diabetes or prediabetes and are also out of shape and living a sedentary lifestyle, your doctor might be telling you that it's time to make a change. The good news is that if you're starting out on the lower end of the fitness and/or activity scale, you have the most to gain from adding in even minimal amounts of daily physical activity.
The first thing you should consider is adding in more daily living activities and other daily movement. Simply standing up and moving around more can lower your metabolic risk and help control blood glucose levels. In fact, you can gain health benefits by cutting back on the total amount of time you spend doing sedentary activities, which you can do by adding in frequent, short bouts of standing or other movement to break up the time you spend sitting into smaller chunks. This helps even if you're already physically active.
Making small changes in your daily activity, such as taking a 5-minute walking break every hour, also likely benefits you if you're trying to lose weight or keep it off. Theoretically, during an 8-hour workday, a person can burn off an extra 24, 59, or 132 Calories by simply getting up and walking around at a normal walking pace for one, two, or five minutes every hour, respectively, compared with sitting. Even modest amounts of exercise that don't result in weight loss benefit your body's ability to metabolize glucose and fat. In short, simply taking breaks from sedentary time is a potential way to lose weight and prevent weight gain, and it may help prevent type 2 diabetes in the first place.
Taking frequent breaks from sitting during the day likely also helps prevent or lower your post-meal blood glucose spikes, even if your diabetes is already in good control (an A1C level well below 7.0 percent). Studies have also shown that in newly-diagnosed adults with type 2 diabetes (ages 30-80), the more time that they spent doing sedentary things, the larger their waist size. A larger waistline means you have more of the "bad" fat stored inside your abdomen and a greater chance of developing high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, heart disease, and even cancer — it's always better to have less fat stored there. Simply being more active all day long doing regular activities can actually keep you from gaining as much of that bad fat by using up a lot of calories.
If you do nothing else, just stand up more — it counts as unstructured activity. In one study, the main difference between groups of lean and obese adults was that the obese people sat for about 2.5 hours more per day and walked an average of 3.5 miles less per day than their lean counterparts. Those lean adults usually did nothing more than take walks of short duration (less than 15 minutes) and low velocity (about one mile per hour). Thus, how long you spend sitting each day and whether you move at all during periods of prolonged inactivity are both critical in determining how well your metabolism works and your blood glucose is controlled.
Of course, if you progress from taking more frequent breaks in your sedentary time to moving more all day long and engaging in more structured physical activities (especially if you meet the guidelines of doing at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week and two days of resistance training), you will likely gain additional health benefits. If you're currently sedentary, you have to start somewhere, though, and just getting up on your feet can move you well out of the highest health risk category without your ever having to break a sweat. A good rule of thumb is to never sit more than 30 minutes continuously without standing up and taking a break—or even better, walking around for a few minutes to minimize the negative metabolic effects of prolonged sitting.
NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
- Amati F, Pennant M, Azuma K, et al. Lower thigh subcutaneous and higher visceral abdominal adipose tissue content both contribute to insulin resistance. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2012;20:1115-7.
- Cooper AR, Sebire S, Montgomery AA, et al. Sedentary time, breaks in sedentary time and metabolic variables in people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes. Diabetologia 2012;55:589-99.
- Duncan GE, Perri MG, Theriaque DW, Hutson AD, Eckel RH, Stacpoole PW. Exercise training, without weight loss, increases insulin sensitivity and postheparin plasma lipase activity in previously sedentary adults. Diabetes Care 2003;26:557-62.
- Dunstan DW, Kingwell BA, Larsen R, et al. Breaking Up Prolonged Sitting Reduces Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Responses. Diabetes Care 2012;35:976-83.
- Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR, et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2011;43:1334-59.
- Johannsen DL, Welk GJ, Sharp RL, Flakoll PJ. Differences in daily energy expenditure in lean and obese women: the role of posture allocation. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2008;16:34-9.
- Levine JA, Lanningham-Foster LM, McCrady SK, et al. Interindividual variation in posture allocation: possible role in human obesity. Science 2005;307:584-6.
- Levine JA, McCrady SK, Lanningham-Foster LM, Kane PH, Foster RC, Manohar CU. The role of free-living daily walking in human weight gain and obesity. Diabetes 2008;57:548-54.
- Swartz AM, Squires L, Strath SJ. Energy expenditure of interruptions to sedentary behavior. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2011;8:69.
- van Dijk JW, Manders RJ, Hartgens F, Stehouwer CD, Praet SF, van Loon LJ. Postprandial hyperglycemia is highly prevalent throughout the day in type 2 diabetes patients. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2011;93:31-7.
Mint-Dusted Asparagus Corn and Potato Chowder Indonesian Chicken Sweet Potato Cornbread Zesty Zucchini Cranberry-Nut Wheat Loaf Chocolate Cream Pie Turkey With Cranberry Stuffing Crabmeat and Pasta Salad Hot Potato Salad
As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...