Want to cut your chances of getting type 2 diabetes? Get up out of that chair, and start moving. And by all means cut down the amount of time you spend lounging in bed.

Individuals at risk for getting type 2 diabetes can slash their risk by decreasing their sitting time by 90 minutes a day, according to research reported by Medical News Today.

In fact, simply moving around more often seems to be more effective than exercising regularly, according to the study at the University of Leicester. Cutting down on your sitting time by an hour and a half each day could have positive health benefits, researchers found. (Additionally, at-risk individuals should do moderate-to-vigorous exercise for at least 150 minutes per week.)

Published in the journal Diabetologia, the research showed that at-risk individuals should be advised to cut back on sedentary time.

"It's a very good study," says Betul Hatipoglu, MD, an endocrinologist at the Cleveland Clinic. "The researchers tracked the activity patterns of those who were in the study, and found that the individuals who moved around more lessened the risk of getting diabetes."

It can be empowering for people to realize that they can reduce their risk of diabetes just by not sitting so much, says Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, MD, director of Women and Heart Disease in the Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and the author of Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum's Heart Book: Every Woman's Guide to a Heart Healthy Life—Reduce the Effects of Stress, Promote Heart Health and Restore the Balance in Your Life.

"What we need to impress on people is that 150 minutes of exercise a week is recommended to prevent heart disease, but when it comes to preventing diabetes it is just as important to decrease the time you are sitting," she says.

So what's the takeaway message? "Moving around is healthy," says Joel Zonszein, MD, director of the clinical diabetes center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "Medications for diabetes don't work as well without exercise. And when combined with a healthy diet, exercise can make a big difference."

How Can You Make a Difference in Your Own Life?

Cut down on the time you spend in front of a computer or TV, Zonszein recommends. "It's just not a healthy habit to sit in front of a screen for hours," he says. "And when you are sitting in front of a screen, you tend to snack more."

Get moderate exercise, he says. "Just exercising three times a week for half an hour can make a big difference," Zonszein says.

To motivate yourself to walk more, consider buying a pedometer, says Hatipoglu. "This can be a good reminder because it tells you throughout the day how much walking you've done, and you will be motivated to walk more," she says.

Joel Zonszein, MD, reviewed this article.




"Sitting less reduces risk of Type 2 diabetes." 2 March 2013. Medical News Today.