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Is sitting a direct cause of diabetes?

Lana Bandoim's picture

Are the hours you spend sitting in a chair or on your couch responsible for diabetes?


A new study takes the debate about sitting for too long in a different direction. Researchers at the University of Sydney have found that there is no direct link between sitting and diabetes. The long-term study contradicts other findings about the dangers of sitting and the risks of the sedentary lifestyle.

New research on diabetes and sitting

The new study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, followed 4811 workers over 13 years and examined their blood glucose levels. The researchers noted the amount of time they spent sitting during the day, but they also evaluated the participants’ physical activity, diet, habits, body mass index (BMI) and other factors.

They found 402 cases of diabetes during the long-term study. However, they did not see a direct link between the amount of time the participants spent sitting and the risk of diabetes. In addition, the researchers pointed out that the type of sedentary activity had weak associations. For example, many health experts blame TV sitting time for an unhealthy lifestyle, but researchers did not see a higher risk of diabetes in people who spent more time watching TV compared to other sedentary activities.

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Can walking protect you from diabetes?

The researchers mentioned that the workers in the study walked for at least 45 minutes a day. They believe that this large amount of physical activity may have provided protection from diabetes and helped them reduce the risk of health problems. It is important to note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity every day, and the participants in the study exceeded this amount.

Can you safely be a couch potato?

More than 29 million people have type 2 diabetes in this country. Although the new study did not determine that sitting is a direct cause of diabetes, other research has pointed out that there are dangers to the sedentary lifestyle. A study from the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that sitting is linked to obesity and weight gain.

Other studies have found that sitting can increase the risk of colon cancer, breast cancer, cognitive decline, dementia, heart attacks and strokes. The lack of physical activity that is often associated with sitting in a chair for long periods of time is also linked to the loss of lean muscle tissue.

The large amount of walking that the study participants did on a daily basis cannot be underestimated or ignored. By being active for 45 minutes a day, they may have been able to counteract some of the negative impact of sitting at work. The study does not give you freedom to be a couch potato.