How much sitting is too much?
We sit in our cars. We sit at our desks. We sit and watch TV, or sit and look at our phones, or sit and work on our computers. We sit a lot—but how much sitting is too much? Our bodies can suffer when we're settled into a chair for hours on end, including increased risks of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Fortunately, it's not all bad news. There are things you can do today to combat the negative health effects of sitting all day.
In general, sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time for several consecutive hours is not optimal. So shake up your routine in the name of good health! Whether diabetes is already part of your life or if you're working to keep a diagnosis at bay, here are some tips to help break up your sedentary cycle.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that adults with type 2 diabetes find thirty minutes, five days a week for moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise. Physical activity does a lot for people with diabetes, including assisting with blood sugar control and cardiovascular health, boosting energy, and even improving emotional health. Folks with type 2 diabetes who exercise regularly can also lower their body mass index and increase their insulin sensitivity while also streamlining their A1C results. Studies have shown time and time again that eating well and exercising regularly are two of the most important tools for diabetes management.
Still, finding time for a workout every day can feel daunting. How can you make it easier?
A workout doesn't have to feel structured or overwhelming. Don't look at thirty minutes of exercise as a chore to get through each day. Instead, think of a few active things you enjoy doing—walking your dog, taking a stroll around the neighborhood with friends, gardening, dancing—and make those your exercise staples. When you're doing something you like, thirty minutes a day will be a breeze.
Are you daunted by the idea of crowded gyms? You can find the tools for exercise in your house, garage, or even at your desk. Keep a set of hand weights in your living room and spend your TV time doing a thirty-minute strength workout, or invest in a stationary bike or treadmill to exercise in the privacy of your home. There are also plenty of simple exercises you can do without spending a cent on expensive exercise equipment.
Exercise buddies are awesome for accountability and support. Whether you're tapping a coworker for lunchtime walks around the office park or making use of digital platforms like FitBit and Strava to connect with friends, making exercise a team effort can make it way more fun. By partnering with a supportive friend, you'll be inspired and motivated to reach your daily goals.
You don't have to drop ten pounds in a week to feel like a success. Embrace the smaller fitness milestones as you work towards bigger ones. Have you made exercise a part of your routine for at least three days of the week? Put a gold star on your chart! And also tune into your body for signs of success. Your pants might not feel looser yet, but you might notice that you're less winded going up the stairs, or that you're sleeping better at night. There are plenty of reasons to pat yourself on the back!
Now that you know how much sitting is too much, you're already on the path to better health. If you're thinking of starting a new workout routine, remember to talk to your doctor to make sure you're always exercising safely.
By Kerri Sparling
Kerri Sparling has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1986, when she was diagnosed at the age of seven. She is an internationally recognized diabetes advocate. Kerri is the creator and author of Six Until Me, which she established in 2005 and which remains one of the most widely-read diabetes patient blogs, reaching a global audience of patients, caregivers, and others in the industry. She has been featured on NPR, US News and World Report, CBNC, Yahoo! Health, LA Times, and The Lancet, among other national outlets.
The Lancet, The effect of physical activity on mortality and cardiovascular disease in 130 000 people from 17 high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries: the PURE study
American Council on Exercise, Top 25 At-Home Exercises
American Diabetes Association, Blood Glucose and Exercise
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.