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Want to Prevent Diabetes? You Have to Move!

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New studies reveal lack of movement dangerous for overall health and can increase a person's risk of developing many health problems including type 2 diabetes. Read on to see how you can reverse this risk below.

Diet and exercise are the keys to a long and healthy life. This has long been a well-established and undisputed fact. Almost no one is surprised to hear that staying active and eating right are necessary for maintaining a healthy body. However, millions of people continue to sacrifice in one area or both for the sake of convenience.

Unfortunately, recent studies now reveal that a lack of movement may be much more damaging than previously thought, leading to health problems such as osteoporosis, insomnia, overall mortality, depression, and even diabetes. Read on to learn more about these health dangers and what you can do to minimize your own health risks.

Our Bodies Need to Move

According to a study from 2009 conducted by researchers from Boston University, our bodies are naturally programmed to move at scheduled intervals from birth. The researchers examined the movement patterns of rats, young adults, middle-aged adults, and the elderly. No matter what the schedule of the day, both the young adults and rats would have periods of movement followed by periods of rest. But in the older groups, there was less activity.

In a follow-up study published in 2015, when rats were given access to running wheels they followed more consistent activity patterns. But when the rats had no access to exercise, they significantly reduced their activity levels. In the original study, reduced activity was associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as a person aged. These studies suggest that activity and exercise are imperative for our mental health and overall well being.

The Health Dangers of Sitting Still

The body works a lot less when it is sitting. A lack of movement does more than simply cause back pain or neck strain. Our modern lifestyles may actually be killing us slowly. Find some of the most concerning health risks below:

Sitting Increases the Risk of Death

Although it almost seems at-odds, studies show that people who move more are less likely to die for any reason. Their total mortality risk is reduced. A study that took place over 30 years conducted by Harvard researchers found that when men did not exercise regularly (30 minutes a day, 6 days a week), their risk of dying from any cause increased by 40 percent.

Men who were inactive tended to die about five years sooner than their exercising peers. However, men that did exercise, but did so for less than one hour a week showed no benefit in lifespan or reduction in mortality rate. So how much you exercise definitely makes a difference.

Sitting Hurts Your Bones

You wouldn’t think that exercising would benefit bone health much simply because the bones are being used and “worn out” during exercise. However, studies show that weight-bearing exercises actually build bone mass. According to a review on bone mass leading back over 33,000 years in a study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University's school of medicine, bones have grown naturally weaker over time as we moved away from our nomadic roots.

“…we found that European humans' bones grew weaker gradually as they developed and adopted agriculture and settled down to a more sedentary lifestyle,” the study authors noted.

The study authors stated that stress placed on bones is actually beneficial, leading to increased calcium build-up that makes it more difficult to break bones. Bones start to break down actively after age 30 in most adults, which means that to prevent bone damage, adults need to proactively exercise regularly with weight-bearing exercises to reduce their risk of developing osteoporosis.

Sitting Can Cause Diabetes

Sitting too much is associated with a host of health problems, but one of the most surprising is its influence on type 2 diabetes risk. A massive review conducted on 47 studies on sitting published in 2015 in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that sitting is associated with a huge number of health risks, including heart disease, cancer, mortality, and type 2 diabetes. The study found that when individuals sit still for more than eight hours a day, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes increased by 90 percent.

Sitting Causes Death Faster

Another study published in 2015 in BJSM found that individuals who sit for more than seven hours a day have an increased total mortality risk of 50 percent. You are 50 percent more likely to die from any health-related cause if you sit for extended periods at work or home. 

Other Health Risks of Sitting

These studies also revealed that sitting for extended periods can increase your risk for developing colon cancer by 30 percent and uterine cancer by 60 percent. Your risks for developing chronic inflammation, anxiety, depression, and hormone problems also increase when you spend more than six or seven hours a day sitting.

Sitting is Bad, So Now What?

Our modern lifestyle is not built for optimal health. The studies above showed that even if you exercise regularly, you may not be able to reduce all risks associated with extended sitting. However, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing a sitting-related health problem, such as diabetes.

Create a Solid Exercise Plan

Exercise is important, but the right kind of exercise can make a difference. If you exercising using weight lifting exercises, you will typically have better results than someone who focuses solely on cardio exercises. Try to incorporate a variety of stretching, core exercises, strength training, and sessions of high-intensity exercise to your routine. Additionally, aim to walk about 10,000 steps per day. This will get you up on your feet for longer each day and will also benefit your overall health.

According to a 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, there is an ideal amount of exercise for a healthier life. The study examined data from over 661,000 adults and over 14 years of death records. The exercising habits of each person were analyzed and ranged from zero hours per week to more than 25 hours per week. The study authors found that individuals who exercised 450 minutes a week (about an hour a day) were able to reduce their risk of premature death by 39 percent.

Try Sitting Less

Since not all of the ill effects from sitting are counteracted by exercise, ideally you should aim to sit less often in a day. This is not always a practical solution, but it can be a goal to aim for each day. If possible, convert your sitting desk to a standing desk. If you can’t do that, try taking walking breaks at least once an hour. Try to stand during meetings, when possible. Any extra movement and standing that you can fit into your day try to do so. At home, this could mean watching TV while standing or completing other exercises.

What Else Will Reduce Diabetes Risk?

The most surprising discovery in these studies is how dramatic the effects of sitting are on diabetes risk. The risk of developing diabetes rises a whopping 90 percent in individuals who do not exercise regularly. If standing more often is not really an option for you, there still may be steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing diabetes. These steps include:

Eating a Healthy Diet

Type 2 diabetes is caused by resistance to insulin and leptin. These hormones are secreted in response to eating sugar and prevent blood sugar spikes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when these hormones are not working properly. Usually, blood sugar spikes are caused by a diet high in sugar. Instead of eating a lot of sugar, eat more protein, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil.

Supplementing for Health

A lot of Americans are lacking in vital nutrients. Supplements can help fill in any nutrient gaps and may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Supplements that Control Blood Sugar

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Individuals who are overweight are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. If you are overweight, take steps to eliminate those extra pounds and lower your risk. Exercise and eating a healthy diet are the two most effective ways to lose unnecessary pounds. If you are having trouble losing weight, try exercising with a friend or creating an incentive program to reward yourself for making healthy food choices.

Take Steps to Prevent Sitting-Related Health Problems

If you sit often, like most Americans, then you do have an increased risk of developing many common and dangerous health problems. From a dramatic increase in diabetes risk to an overall increase in deaths from any cause, the adverse health effects of sitting are no joke. However, there are steps you can take today to minimize your risk and keep your body healthy as you age. A healthy diet, supplement plan, and regular exercise are some of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of sitting-related health problems.





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