Type 2 Diabetes and Prolonged Sitting

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In 2012, 9.3% of Americans – that is more than 29 million – are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes with another 8.1 million undiagnosed according the American Diabetes Association.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong health problem that afflicts many worldwide. Most prominently is the presence of increased blood sugar level and resistance to insulin. Insulin is a hormone – a special body chemical produced within the pancreas, an organ that lies just behind the stomach. Insulin helps move the sugar present within the blood into the cells of the body. The cells may burn sugar to produce energy or store the sugar for later consumption. When you have type 2 diabetes, cells within your body have a limited ability to respond to insulin. As a result, inefficient sugar absorption within the cells occurs, leading to increased sugar level within your bloodstream.

Does Too Much Sitting Cause Diabetes?

Too much sitting – a manifestation of sedentary behavior – has negative effects on the body’s way of handling its energy consumption, says researchers of a study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine published in 2009, making it one of the strongest predictors of type 2 diabetes. Prolonged sitting (during long travels, at work, at home and even during leisure) makes your body’s energy expenditure dip so low that it makes you gain weight at an alarmingly fast rate. With sedentary behavior, your risk for high blood sugar level increases, even when maintaining a good diet.

Is 30 minutes of exercise enough?

Many people believe that having regular physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day is enough to keep a person from developing chronic diseases such as diabetes. However, as pointed out by Professor Nevil Owen of the Cancer Prevention Research Centre, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, the length of time people spend sitting during their non-exercise waking hours is directly proportional to their risk for developing type 2 diabetes and other health problems.

How to prevent having diabetes:

To decrease your risk for diabetes mellitus II, it is best not to sit for too long even when you are travelling, working, enjoying your time off or taking your coffee break. 30 minutes of intense physical activity is simply not enough. Don’t just sit there. Stand. Walk around. Stretch a bit. Do something that involves some light physical activity even when you are not doing your exercise at all. Remember: You can never beat diabetes while sitting. Stand up to diabetes, starting today! 


American Diabetes Association: Statistics About Diabetes

British Journal of Sports Medicine; Too much sitting: a novel and important predictor of chronic disease risk?; Owen, N.  et al; 2009




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