Oct. 15, 2012 -- Your workout routine may not be enough to keep you healthy if you sit for many hours a day.
A new analysis links prolonged sitting to greater odds of diabetes, heart disease, and death -- even in people who exercise regularly.
“Many people think that if they work out every day that’s all they need to do,” says researcher Emma Wilmot, MD, of England's University of Leicester. “But those with jobs that require sitting all day may still be at risk."
Between the time spent driving and seated in front of a desk, computer, or TV, the average adult spends between 50% and 70% of their day sitting down, Wilmot says.
Wilmot's team analyzed 18 studies that together included nearly 800,000 people.
People who sat for the longest periods of time were twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease than those who sat the least. That was even true of people who did moderate to vigorous physical activity on a regular basis.
Prolonged sitting was also linked to a greater risk of death from all causes, but the strongest link was to diabetes, Wilmot says.
The same research team recently reported that sitting for long periods appears to raise the risk for kidney disease, especially in women.
Thomas Yates, MD, who led that study, says the evidence linking prolonged sitting to poorer overall health is mounting.
“Even for people who are otherwise active, sitting for long stretches seems to be an independent risk factor for conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease,” he says.
Regular Exercise May Not Be Enough
“Right now we are told to get regular exercise, but that may not be enough,” Yates says. “Another important message may be to reduce overall sitting time.”
This may be especially important for people with type 2 diabetes or those at risk for the disease.
Other recent studies have linked sitting for long periods with higher insulin levels.
Yates recommends standing up for two minutes every 20 minutes you spend sitting down, and standing up during commercials when watching TV.
It's not clear if these interventions make a difference, but it's a step in the right direction.
“We aren’t really at the point where we can give specific recommendations,” he says. “But it does appear that the less time spent sitting, the better.”
Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!
Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Thank you for signing up for the WebMD Diabetes Newsletter!
You'll find tips and tricks as well as the latest news and research on Diabetes.
Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?
Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.