Get up and Move!

March 21, 2012

Sitting for too long may adversely affect your blood sugar metabolism. Find out how you can optimize your metabolism here

Research is finding more and more the benefits of exercise and moving around as well as the dangers of being sedentary. The latest study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, found that taking breaks to walk every 20 minutes, instead of staying seated for hours, helps reduce the body's levels of glucose and insulin, especially after eating.

Many jobs today entail sitting at a desk for many hours in front of a computer, where many of us could stay for hours longer searching the web and chatting on the phone. David Dunstan, one of the authors of the Diabetes Care study and a professor at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia explained to Reuters, "when we sit our muscles are in a state of disuse and they're not contracting and helping our body to regulate many of the body's metabolic processes.” Therefore much of the energy that we are consuming from food is not being used, and remains in our blood stream waiting to be used by our muscles and organs. Eating refined carbohydrates, and other high glycemic index foods causes a greater glucose and insulin spike after meals, and is tied to a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes. Insulin is necessary to help use glucose (blood sugar) for energy, or to store it for later use.

Dunstan's team looked at three controlled scenarios in sedentary overweight adults, testing their insulin and blood sugar levels every hour. They found that when participants walked around every 20 minutes, their blood sugar spike was reduced by an average of 24 percent versus staying seated for hours after eating the same meal. There was a nearly 30 percent difference with moderate-intensity activity.

In those with type 2 diabetes, the insulin response is blunted and can no longer properly help glucose into the cells, so after meals blood sugar and insulin levels can spike and remain high for many hours which can be very damaging to our vessels and arteries. It is very important for everyone, not just those with diabetes or prediabetes to be mindful of their food choices and how they affect blood sugar.

The study’s authors say it’s still not clear whether the reduction will translate to health benefits, but we do know from previous studies that keeping blood sugar levels within a certain range is ideal for optimal health. SupermarketGuru believes it can’t hurt to get up and move every 20 minutes or so, even if it’s just around your office. Hey why not take phone calls standing up and walking around – multitasking in this manner can improve your health!