Being stuck behind a desk is no excuse to stay inactive, experts say.
Here’s a great reason to step away from your desk — health experts want people, especially sedentary diabetics, to get up every 30 minutes.
The American Diabetes Association called for three or more minutes of light physical activity for every half hour that someone with type 2 diabetes spends sitting at a desk or watching TV, in new recommendations released Tuesday. It previously recommended standing, walking or doing light-intensity activities for every 90 minutes of prolonged sedentary time.
“These updated guidelines are intended to ensure everyone continues to physically move around throughout the day,” wrote lead author Dr. Sheri R. Colberg-Ochs, the American Diabetes Association director of physical fitness.
The revised rules are based on a review of more than 180 diabetes research papers, particularly a 2016 study that found three minutes of walking or light exercise — like overhead arm stretches and squats — every 30 minutes lowered blood pressure and improved blood sugar for inactive, overweight/obese adults with type 2 diabetes.
Sounds simple enough. But for those who struggle with just stretching their legs once an hour, moving around every half hour adds up to about 48 minutes over the average eight-hour workday. Oh, and desk jockeys still need to squeeze in regular cardio exercise and strength training on top of their regular sitting breaks.
It sounds excessive, but Dr. Avigdor Dori Arad, a registered dietitian and certified exercise physiologist at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital, says that getting off your butt could save your life.
The American Diabetes Association recommends stretching or walking three minutes for every 30 spent sitting.
“Sedentary time is a massive issue, an enormous epidemic, and more and more people who spend more and more time sitting don’t get any exercise at all,” he said.
Apart from helping to maintain blood sugar, aerobic activity also helps patients with type 2 diabetes by boosting weight loss and reducing cardiovascular risks. And regular exercise benefits those with type 1 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength.
And for those worried about fitting in almost an extra hour of light physical activity during an already packed work day, Dr. Arad has some tips.
“Walk over to one of your colleagues instead of sending an email,” he said. “Take a light walk when you go to lunch, rather than ordering something in. And take the stairs whenever you can. Doing regular exercise is very important, but reducing your sedentary behavior is just as important.”