Sitting down less can cut diabetes risk by up to 75% and reduce your waist size
29 July, London: Sitting down too much during leisure time increases your risk of diabetes even if you work out regularly, scientists warn. Those who sit very little and exercise a lot cut their risk of obesity – strongly linked to type 2 diabetes – by up to three-quarters, a study shows. It appears that long periods of inactive leisure time reduce the benefits derived from physical exercise, say the researchers from University College London. This means the best way to cut the risk of obesity – and therefore of diabetes – is to sit down less as well as taking more exercise. Researchers looked at the effects of being inactive during hours away from work – such as watching TV, sewing, or sitting at a desk – on 4,000 civil servants over five and ten-year periods. After five years, those who spent less than 12 hours a week sitting and more than four hours exercising had a quarter the obesity risk of those who sat for more than 25 hours a week and did less than 90 minutes’ physical activity.
Those who did intermediate amounts of exercise and sitting down had half the obesity risk. This may be because sitting less reinforces the benefit of exercise or because those who exercise more tend to sit less. Figures show that the average adult spends 90 per cent of their leisure time sitting down and that people who sit for longer have bigger waist sizes. The UCL study, published in the journal Diabetologia, found that sitting less and being moderately active reduced the development of metabolic risk factors, such as ‘bad’ cholesterol and insulin resistance, that can lead to diabetes.
The findings appear to confirm not only the importance of physical activity but also the risk of too much sitting. One of the study authors, Dr Joshua Bell, said: ‘The effectiveness of physical activity for preventing obesity may depend on how much you sit in your leisure time. Both high levels of physical activity and low levels of leisure time sitting may be required to substantially reduce the risk of becoming obese.’ The research comes amid growing evidence which suggests too much sitting – as opposed to insufficient activity – may be a new risk factor for premature death and illness such as cancer and heart disease, the Daily Mail reports.