Less sedentary time reduces risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases

Gabin Vallet

Regular exercise is known to be an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. A new study has found that reducing daily sedentary time by one hour can have a beneficial effect on the risk factors of chronic diseases.

The research, published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, was conducted by investigators at the Turku PET Centre and the UKK Institute in Finland. The study explored whether health benefits can be achieved by reducing daily sedentary time during a three-month intervention period.

According to the study, 64 sedentary, middle-aged adults with metabolic syndrome were randomized into intervention and control groups. The intervention group was guided to limit sedentary behavior by one hour a day through increased standing and light-intensity physical activity. The control group was instructed to maintain their usual habits.

The research participants were sedentary and physically inactive working-age adults with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Researchers measured sedentary behavior, breaks in sedentary behavior, standing, and physical activity by accelerometers that were worn on the hips of participants for three months. In addition, fasting blood sampling and measurements of anthropometrics, body composition, and blood pressure were performed at baseline and at three months.

The study’s results found that participants in the intervention group were able to reduce sedentary behavior by 50 minutes a day on average by increasing their amount of light-and moderate-intensity physical activity. In addition, during the three-month period, researchers observed benefits in health outcomes related to blood sugar regulation, insulin sensitivity and liver health in the intervention group.

According to the study’s authors, reducing sedentary time is probably not enough in itself to prevent diseases if the person has 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,” said Taru Garthwaite, a doctoral candidate at the University of Turku in Finland and co-author of the study, in a statement.

The next step for the researchers is to study how changes in daily activity and sedentary time affect energy metabolism and body composition in addition to the risk factors of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases during a six-month study period.