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August 5, 2022

Reducing sedentary time mitigates risk of developing type 2 diabetes, study shows

A new study from the University of Turku, Finland, suggests that reducing the amount of time spent sedentary each day may help in preventing the development of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes.

Researchers guided an intervention group to reduce the time they spent sitting by one hour per day through increased standing and light-intensity physical activity. In contrast, a second group was made to maintain their sedentary lifestyle and usual habits.

Although research has shown that exercise is beneficial in managing weight and preventing diseases, many adults do not achieve the weekly recommendation of 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise, with the majority of the day spent sitting instead.

Participants from both groups were adults who did not have physically active lifestyles and were sedentary, with these factors contributing to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

During the three-month study period, participants in the intervention group were noted to have observable benefits in their blood sugar regulation, insulin sensitivity and liver health. The positive outcomes were due to the intervention group reducing their sedentary time by an average of 50 minutes per day through light- and moderate-intensity physical activity.

Doctoral Candidate Taru Garthwaite, said: “It is an encouraging thought that health benefits can be achieved by reducing the time spent sitting and increasing the amount of even light-intensity physical activity. For many, this may be an easier starting point than increasing actual exercise.”

The results show that individuals who are physically inactive are most likely to benefit from replacing sedentary periods with light physical activity. Although, reducing the time spent sedentary will not be as effective in preventing diseases in individuals with several risk factors of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

“Reducing the time spent sitting might still slow down the development of these diseases, but greater benefits can of course be gained by increasing the amount or intensity of physical activity in addition to sitting less,” Garthwaite added.

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