Reducing Sedentary Time Mitigates the Risk of CVD, T2D, Study Results Show

Spending 1 hour less sitting a day and increasing light physical activity helps prevent diseases, investigators find.

Spending 1 hour less sitting a day and increasing light physical activity can help prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes (T2D), according to the results of a study from the Turku PET Centre and the UKK Institute in Finland.

The risk of developing these diseases is increased by being overweight as the result of metabolic disorders, physical inactivity, and an unhealthy diet. Regular exercise is well known to be beneficial in weight management and disease prevention.

However, many adults do not meet the weekly recommendation of 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise, with most of the day typically spent sitting, according to a statement.

In the intervention study, investigators aimed to see whether health benefits can be achieved by reducing daily sedentary time during a 3-month intervention period. The individuals were physically inactive and sedentary working-age adults with an increased risk of CVD and T2D.

The investigators compared 2 groups: participants of a control group, who were instructed to maintain their sedentary lifestyle and usual habits and an intervention group, who were guided to reduce their sitting time by 1 hour per day through increasing light-intensity physical activity and standing.

“What makes our research design unique is that sedentary time and physical activity of both groups were measured with accelerometers throughout the entire 3-month period, whereas in earlier studies activity has typically been measured only for a few days at the beginning and end of the study period. This makes it possible to receive more information on the actual behavior changes over a longer time period,” Taru Garthwaite, a doctoral candidate of the University of Turku in Finland, said in the statement.

Investigators found that the investigation group managed to reduce sedentary time by 50 minutes per day on average, mainly by increasing the amount of light- and moderate-intensity physical activity. In the 3-month period, the investigators observed benefits in health outcomes related to blood sugar regulation, insulin sensitivity, and liver health in the intervention group.

It is likely that individuals who do not meet the weekly physical activity recommendations will benefit the most from replacing sedentary time with light physical activity, investigators said.

However, reducing sedentary time is probably not enough in itself to prevent diseases if the individual has several risk factors for CVD and diabetes, investigators said.

“Reducing the time spent sitting might still slow down the development of these diseases, but greater benefits can of course be gained by increasing the amount or intensity of physical activity in addition to sitting less,” Garthwaite said.

The next step in the study is to examine how changes in daily activity and sedentary time affect body composition and energy metabolism, in addition to the risk factors for CVD and diabetes during a 6-month study period, investigators said.

Reference

Reducing sedentary time mitigates the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. EurekAlert. News release. May 2, 2022. Accessed May 3, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/951357