Easy Ways to Break Up Sedentary Time
Last updated: February 2022
Over the last few years, sitting has become a leading culprit to health complications. Wonder if you're sedentary? It's kind of a loaded question. Current physical activity recommendations consist of at least 150 weekly minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity along with two or more days of muscle-strengthening exercise.1
Sedentary activities are far more common today
Meeting these activity recommendations is no small feat and results in numerous health benefits, especially for people with diabetes. However, people can reach their physical activity needs while still living a predominately sedentary lifestyle.
The day commonly starts with commuting to work by car or public transit. Or, it means going from your bedroom to your home office with many people now working from home! In 2019, the average one-way commute to work was approximately 28 minutes, followed by an 8.5-hour work shift. Once the day ends, people commute back to their homes—totaling an average of about 10.5 hours of sedentary time with minimal interruptions.2
While many people may spend evenings doing physical activity, it can also involve additional screen time as a relaxation method. Advancements in technology seemingly created a preference for sedentary behavior—making minimal movement the ultimate attraction.
With a click of a button, people can order their groceries, shop for household supplies, or catch up with friends virtually. It appears that daily life has now minimized regular movement and maximized time spent sitting.
A little activity goes a long way
While people should still aim to reach the physical activity recommendations, minimizing prolonged sitting time should also be a top priority. Research has found that people with diabetes who broke up every 30 minutes of sedentary time with just 3 minutes of light-intensity activity had significantly improved blood glucose levels and inflammatory markers.3
In fact, small 15-minute increments of physical activity can be beneficial for all-around health. Here are some physical activity ideas to get you moving:
- 15 minutes of dumbbells during the morning news
- 15 minutes of walking to lunch
- 15 minutes of walking the dog after work
- 15 minutes of arm circles, or using resistance bands while sitting and watching your favorite show
- 15 minutes of floor exercises (tightening and releasing your core muscles)
Health risks of sedentary behavior
While you may do your best to stay active, increased sedentary behavior can negatively impact your health. In fact, research shows that prolonged sitting time may increase the risk of disease, independent of those risks associated with insufficient physical activity.3
Specifically, lengthy sedentary time may result in an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and certain cancers. It may also lead to greater waist circumference, BMI, and cholesterol levels, all contributing to possible diabetes-related complications.4
So, consistently breaking up sedentary behavior can help maximize health benefits for people with diabetes. Share your strategies on how you're moving more in the comments, and check back next month for more ideas.
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