Individuals with an active lifestyle are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease compared to those with a sedentary lifestyle, a new study has suggested.

Academics from the University of Turku in Finland have found that people who spend just one hour less sitting per day can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy diet can trigger the development of these two conditions, the study has reported.

Prior research has found that physical activity can prevent the development of diseases, but most adults fail to meet the weekly recommendation of 2.5 hours of exercise per week.

During the study, the team of scientists split the participants into two groups – an intervention group where the subjects reduced their sitting time by one hour per day and a control group where the subjects followed their usual routine.

First author Taru Garthwaite said: “What makes our research design unique is that sedentary time and physical activity of both groups were measured with accelerometers throughout the entire three-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 behaviour changes over a longer time period.”

The academics detected an improvement in blood sugar management, insulin sensitivity and overall health outcomes amongst participants in the intervention group.

Garthwaite said: “It is an encouraging thought that health benefits can be achieved by reducing the time spent sitting and increasing the amount of even light-intensity physical activity. For many, this may be an easier starting point than increasing actual exercise.

“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.”

The study ‘Effects of reduced sedentary time on cardiometabolic health in adults with metabolic syndrome’ has been published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

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