The research by the Leicester Diabetes Centre working with the University of Leicester and the Leicester hospitals was designed to see what benchmark could be set for physical activity that would make a difference.
The current officially approved advice offered to patients at risk of type2 diabetes is to try and achieve 150 minutes a week (just over 20 minutes per day) of ‘moderate to vigorous physical activity’ (MVPA).
The definition of MVPA is any physical exertion which causes a noticeable increase in heart rate; the equivalent of dancing, brisk walking, housework and domestic chores, walking dogs etc.
What the new research has revealed, however, is that the mere act of standing up for five minutes every half an hour provides enough respite and impetus to the blood system to significantly reduce the diabetes risk.
The study selected 22 overweight/obese women of similar ages who had been identified as a high diabetes risk and split the subjects into two groups. Each group was made to sit for 7.5 hours (representing a standard working day in an office environment).
Everyone was fed standardised breakfasts and lunches but one of the groups was asked to stand every half an hour while the other group was left sitting. The next day the process was repeated but reversed.
In every case where the day was punctuated with standing for just five minutes in every 30 changes occurred to the sugar and insulin levels in the subjects which were roughly similar to five minutes of light walking, reducing sugar levels by 34% and increasing insulin concentrations by 20%.
The researchers hope that these results can be confirmed in other studies and then inform the official advice given to women at risk.
It’s no replacement for a proper exercise regimen, but surely all of us can manage to stand up once every half an hour?
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