“Getting up from your desk for two minutes every half an hour could slash the risk of diabetes” is the advice in the Daily Mail and on the NHS Choices website.
The Mail reports on a small study looking at people who were asked to either:
- sit still for nine hours
- walk for 30 minutes before sitting still for nine hours
- interrupt the nine hour sitting period with short bursts of regular activity (walking for 1 minute 40 seconds) every 30 minutes
As you would expect, the regular activity group had healthier blood sugar levels than the ‘sitting still’ group. Interestingly however, they also had healthier blood sugar levels than the longer exercise group.
The findings, while intriguing, are far from conclusive. The study was small and short term so it would be a mistake to draw firm conclusions from it. Also, it only recruited people of healthy weight – if the group of 70 had included people who were overweight or obese, the results may have been different.
While blood sugar control is a marker for diabetes risk, diabetes was not tested directly in the study.
Despite these limitations, the results reinforce the established fact that regular exercise is beneficial for health and wellbeing and that prolonged inactivity is unhealthy.
But whether exercising little and often may be just as good, or better than more intense blocks of exercise, is still unproven.
Read the full story in the NHS Choices website