Study shows regularly standing up helps prevent Type 2 diabetes

Women who have an inactive daily routine and are at high risk of Type 2 diabetes can help prevent the condition by regularly standing up or walking for five minutes at a time, a new study has found.

Currently, those at risk of the condition are advised to engage in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) for at least 150 minutes per week. But research published in Diabetes Care, the journal of the American Diabetes Association, suggests that breaking up prolonged periods of sitting regularly with five minutes bouts of light movement every 30 minutes significantly reduces blood sugar and insulin levels.

The findings of the study carried out at the Leicester Diabetes Centre demonstrate the importance of incorporating breaks in prolonged sitting into otherwise sedentary lifestyles. It was led by Leicester researchers working for the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit (BRU).

Lead researcher Dr Joseph Henson concluded: “Breaking up prolonged sitting with five minute bouts of standing or walking at a self-perceived light intensity significantly reduced sugar and insulin responses in women at high risk of Type 2 diabetes.

“This simple, behavioural approach could inform future public health interventions aimed at improving the metabolic profile of women at a high risk of Type 2 diabetes. As standing and walking are behaviourally more common than MVPA these findings may provide appealing interventional targets in the promotion of metabolic health.”

The Leicester Diabetes Centre is an international centre of excellence in diabetes research, education and innovation led by Professor Melanie Davies and Professor Kamlesh Khunti. Hosted at Leicester General Hospital, the centre is a partnership between the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and the University of Leicester.

The study ‘Breaking Up Prolonged Sitting With Standing or Walking Attenuates the Postprandial Metabolic Response in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Acute Study’ is available here.