How Sitting Affects Your Blood Sugar

I’m sitting as I write this, but maybe I shouldn’t be.  This week, I want to tell you about a new study published on Monday in The Journal of the American Heart Association.  Researchers studied more than 500 older (post-menopausal), women.  The women wore devices to measure their activity during the study.  They had an average age of 63 years and an average sitting time of 9 hours each day.  The researchers found that insulin resistance increased by about 6% for each hour of sitting and that every 15 minutes of uninterrupted sitting increased insulin resistance by about 9%.  This was true regardless of the person’s weight.

What’s the bottom line?  Sitting increases your risk of diabetes.  If you already have diabetes, sitting makes it worse. 

What can you do?  Here are a few tricks to help you get moving:

  • The high-tech option is to wear a Fitbit or a similar device.  If you haven’t taken your desired number of steps in an hour, you’ll get a little buzz on your wrist that reminds you to get up and move.

  • If you don’t want to wear a Fitbit, you can get the same effect by setting a timer on your cellphone to go off every hour.

  • Even more low-tech:  use the timer on your microwave oven.  Set it for an hour.  When it beeps, you’ll need to go turn it off and then you can set it to go off again in another hour.

  • When you’re watching TV, stand up and take a lap down the hall every time there’s a commercial break.

    Speaking of standing up, I’d better do that now!

Julie Cunningham is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist. She believes food is the foundation of good health, and that our culture of obsession about body size is damaging to health, happiness, and productivity in far too many people. When not talking or writing about food and health, she can be found in the the mountains of western NC, where she lives with her family and four legged friends.

Julie Cunningham

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