Exercise snacking can reduce the harm done by long periods of sitting still. Many of us are working in sedentary occupations requiring us to stay seated at our desks for most of the working day. Many people who work in offices say that they are too busy to exercise. Interestingly the word ‘sedentary’ originates in the 17th century so it is not just a modern phenomenon. Even so, the need to take physical activity as a naturally occurring aspect of everyday life has reduced in the developed world.
Blood sugar tends to peak after meals which can in extreme cases lead to Type 2 diabetes. So researchers in New Zealand have looked for a way of reducing these post-meal spikes. Nine overweight people who were in danger of developing diabetes were recruited and asked to try six one-minute bursts of exercise before meals. These short bursts of intense exercise were found to reduce glucose levels after meals by an average of 12 per cent more than a standard 30-minute session. Small amount of high intense exercise before meals were therefore found to be more time efficient than devoting a large chunk of the day.
The findings could be very important if confirmed in larger studies: about three million people in the UK have diabetes and that figure is rising. This affects everyone who uses the National Health Service since the proportion of resources being diverted to tackle this complaint is increasing.
Click here to watch the video where Dr Shirine Boardman explains the importance of exercise for preventing and treating diabetes:
In another study, inactivity was found to be a greater threat to women aged over 30 than smoking, overeating or not eating enough fruit and vegetables. Getting all women active would eliminate a third of heart disease in older age groups according to researchers.