New research has revealed that taking short breaks from sitting can help people with Type 1 diabetes better manage their blood sugar levels. Sitting for long periods is known to be harmful to health, increasing the risk of conditions such as heart disease. It can also affect how the body responds to insulin. With funding from Diabetes UK, Dr Matthew Campbell at the University of Sunderland investigated, for the first time, the impact of breaking up sedentary time (‘activity snacking’) on blood sugar levels in people with Type 1 diabetes.
Thirty-two participants completed two seven-hour sitting sessions over a two-week period. During one session, participants remained seated for the full seven hours, while during the other session they broke up their sitting time with three-minute bouts of light intensity walking every 30 minutes. Participants wore a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to track their blood sugar levels for a 48-hour period during and after each sitting session.
The team found that taking regular walking breaks resulted in lower average blood sugar levels (6.9mmol/L) over the 48-hour study period, compared to uninterrupted sitting (8.2mmol/L). This increased ‘time in range’ (3.9-10 mmol/L) by 14 percentage points, and crucially, did not cause blood sugars to become dangerously low.