Patients at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes would benefit from being told to sit less and move around more often, rather than simply exercising regularly, according to a UK study.
The researchers from Leicester suggest that reducing sitting or lying down time by 90 minutes per day could be more effective than current advice to engage in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week.
They analysed 878 patients from primary care practices in the East Midlands. They examined the extent to which sedentary time, breaks in sedentary time and physical activity were independently associated with cardio-metabolic risk factors.
Sedentary time was shown to have stronger associations with the risk factors of two-hour glucose, triacylglycerol and HDL-cholesterol than total physical activity and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. The findings were consistent across patients with diverse age ranges.
The study authors said the research provided preliminary evidence that reducing sedentary behaviour might be a “more effective way” to target diabetes prevention than solely focusing on moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.
They said: “Along with messages related to accumulating at least 150 min/week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, which form the cornerstone of diabetes prevention programmes, such interventions may be more effective still if individuals are further encouraged to simply sit less and move more, regardless of the intensity level.
“This approach requires a paradigm shift, so that individuals at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes think about the balance of sedentary behaviour and physical activity throughout the day,” they added.