Taking short breaks from sitting time also known as 'activity snacking' is a simple, cost-free way to lower average blood sugar levels, compared to uninterrupted sitting and also potentially reduces the risk of future complications
Breaking up prolonged sitting with light-intensity activity is something that people can do irrespective of whether they currently exercise or not. Photo Courtesy: iStock
Despite regular exercise, long periods of sitting time can be harmful to our health. Light-intensity walking for 3 minutes every 30 minutes can help people with Type 1 diabetes to manage their blood sugar levels, according to a study.
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.
Taking short breaks from sitting time -- also known as 'activity snacking' -- is a simple, cost-free way to lower average blood sugar levels, compared to uninterrupted sitting and also potentially reduce their risk of future complications.
"For people with type 1 diabetes, managing blood sugar levels day in and out is relentless. Being physically active is important in managing the condition, but building exercise into your daily routine can be challenging, and even those who exercise frequently can often spend a lot of time sitting or lying down," said Dr Elizabeth Robertson, our Director of Research, from Diabetes UK.
Robertson suggested making a simple, practical change -- such as taking phone calls while walking, or setting a timer to remind you to take breaks -- to avoid sitting for long periods.
Previous research has shown that breaking up periods of sitting with short, frequent walks can help people with Type 2 diabetes reduce their blood sugar levels and their risk of complications. This is because being active can increase the amount of glucose (sugar) used by muscles and can help the body to use insulin more effectively.
But until now it was not known if people with Type 1 diabetes could see the same benefits.
To understand, the team recruited 32 participants, who were, during one session, asked to remain seated for a full seven hours. During the other, they broke up their sitting time with three-minute bouts of light-intensity walking every 30 minutes.
Participants wore a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to track their blood sugar levels for a 48-hour period during and after each sitting session.
Regular walking breaks resulted in lower average blood sugar levels. Importantly, the breaks from sitting also did not increase low blood sugar levels -- a common occurrence with more traditional types of physical activity and exercise.
"Breaking up prolonged sitting with light-intensity activity is something that people can do irrespective of whether they currently exercise or not. For some people, 'activity snacking' could be an important stepping-stone towards more regular physical activity or exercise, whereas, for others, it may be a simple and acceptable intervention to help manage blood glucose levels," said Dr Matthew Campbell, at the University of Sunderland.
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