Studies show that the lower your blood sugar and insulin responses are, the healthier you will be across the board. The less chance of heart disease, cancer, dementia, strokes, everything. This is true whether you’re a diabetic or not.
And you probably know that being sedentary makes these things worse and activity makes them better.
So what if you have a job where you are sitting all day long? I have a lot of patients who are in this situation. They try to solve it by taking a walk during their lunch hour.
But here’s the question. Is it better to exercise all at once like that or just get up and move around every so often during the day? It’s a good question and I’m happy to report that a new study has the answer.
In this study, the authors enrolled 70 healthy, normal weight men and women for the study. The first thing they did was to have them sit for nine continuous hours.
During that time, they ate a meal one hour into the study, four hours in, and seven hours in. While all of this was going on, they measured their blood sugar and insulin levels.
For the technically minded, they measured the area under the curve for blood sugar and insulin during the entire nine hours. This gave them their baseline levels.
Then they repeated the same experiment, only this time the subjects took a 30-minute walk during the nine-hour period. Once again, they measured their blood sugar and insulin levels.
And, finally, they did the experiment a third time. This time, the subjects got up and walked for one minute and 40 seconds every half hour.
So here’s the question. Did either of these two forms of exercise effectively improve the blood sugar and insulin levels? And did one form do a better job than the other? What’s your guess?
Here’s What Happened
The authors reported that in each person both activities improved the levels compared to just sitting the whole time.
But the getting-up-every-half-hour intervention worked a lot better than walking for 30 minutes. It lowered insulin levels 60% more and sugar levels 9% more.
Since lower blood sugar and insulin responses are healthier for you across the board, this study is great news. Anything that you can do, especially if it is as easy as getting up and walking around for a few minutes every now and then, is welcome.
Of course you can improve on that even more if you get up periodically through the day AND walk for 30 minutes during lunch.
Peddie, M.C., J.L. Bone, et al. “Breaking prolonged sitting reduces postprandial glycemia in healthy, normal-weight adults: a randomized crossover trial.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 August;98(2):358-66