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Sitting doubles risk of diabetes and heart disease

Sitting doubles the risk of diabetes and heart diseaseA new science paper claims sitting for long periods of time increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease, regardless of normal activity levels.

The research, carried out by the University of Leicester, combined the results of 18 studies involving almost 800,000 people.

Experts think sitting down forces the body into energy storage mode, which increases the body’s resistance to insulin, the substance that mops up glucose and reduces bad cholesterol.

Ineffective insulin causes the body’s glucose and cholesterol levels to soar, which as much as doubles the risk of diabetes and heart disease developing.

It is thought that, on average, adults spend 50-70% of the day sitting down either at work, on the way to work, or after work watching television or using the computer.

Walking uses up four times as much energy as sitting down.

The findings, published in journal Diabetologia, confirm findings from previous research. One Australian study found that, out of 200,000 volunteers aged over 45, those who sat for more than 11 hours a day had 40% more chance of dying in the next three years than those who sat for only four hours a day.

Another Australian study, published in the October issue of The British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that each hour spent watching television over the age of 25 reduced life expectancy by 21.8 minutes.

The area of research dedicated to investigating the impact of sitting down is known as ‘inactivity research’ and it is becoming increasingly important as more and more of us lead largely sedentary lives.

For decades prolonged inactivity has been known to increase the risk of back pain and obesity, but only now are experts acknowledging just how serious it can be.

Many jobs require long periods of inactivity, meaning that people are spending at least eight hours a day sitting still at desks.

If you are worried about your inactive lifestyle, then you could try incorporating some of the following steps into your daily routine to ensure better health for the future:

  • Set an alarm to go off once an hour so you remember to get up and have a walk around the office.
  • Don’t email your colleagues – get up and walk to them to talk.
  • Stand up and pace when you take a phone call – even standing uses more calories than sitting.
  • Don’t take the lift – run up the stairs.
  • Look into exercise equipment or desk treadmills.

For help with back pain or joint, bone and muscle problems caused by inactivity, head over to Therapy Topics and browse the therapies on offer.

View and comment on the original Guardian article.

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Written by Zoe Thomas

Written by Zoe Thomas

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