Results of a study indicate that the reduction of daily sedentary time can positively affect lifestyle disease risk factors in as little as 3 months. Just 1 hour spent sitting less every day and the increase of light physical activity helps to prevent these diseases.
Cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes are the most common chronic diseases worldwide. The risk of getting these diseases is especially increased by being overweight due to an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.
The benefits of exercising regularly for managing weight and preventing disease are well known. Many individuals however don’t meet the weekly recommended moderate-intensity exercise of 2.5 hours, and nearly all the day is often spent sitting.
The researchers looked at if reducing daily sedentary time with a 3-month treatment period can yield health benefits. The study participants were physically inactive and sedentary working-age individuals with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.
Two groups were compared: the treatment group was encouraged to reduce sitting time by 1 hour every day by increasing standing time and light-intensity physical activity, with the control group keeping their usual habits and sedentary lifestyle.
Prior research has usually measured activity only for a few days at the start and end of the study while this study used accelerometers to measure physical activity and sedentary time of both groups during the entire 3 months. This made it possible to gather more information on the actual behavior changes over a longer period.
Sedentary time in the treatment group was reduced by an average of 50 minutes every day, primarily by the increase in light-intensity and moderate-intensity physical activity amounts. The researchers found benefits in health outcomes during the 3 months associated with liver health, insulin sensitivity, and blood sugar regulation in the treatment group.
Individuals who don’t meet the recommended weekly physical activity will likely benefit the most from substituting sedentary time with light physical activity. Reducing sedentary time may however not be enough in itself to help prevent diseases if the individual already has several cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors.
Reducing time spent sitting may still delay disease development, but more benefits can certainly be obtained by increasing the intensity or amount of physical activity in addition to sitting less.
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