We’ve known for quite a while that people who don’t move around much are prone to heart disease and type 2 diabetes but we haven’t known why.
A very clever experiment by researchers at the
University of Missouri
has tried to tease out the precise role of inactivity in causing ill health. US
Studying the effects of sedentary behaviour isn’t easy.
The researchers devised a novel approach: they stopped a group of very active people from exercising as usual.
They didn’t exactly put them to bed, but nearly.
They got them to cut the number of steps they took each day by at least half.
The question the researchers asked was will this physical laziness stop the body from being able to control blood sugar, that being the key disease-inducing factor for diabetes and heart disease.
Volunteers were fitted with glucose measuring devices so that their blood sugar could be checked continuously through 24 hours.
They were asked to move about as little as possible but eat normally.
To examine their basic blood sugar control, these healthy people were told they could walk and exercise as normal for three days.
During these three days their blood sugar didn’t spike at all after eating, a sign that they had perfect control over their blood sugar and they were ideally sensitive to insulin.
For the second part of the experiment, the volunteers became virtually sedentary and the time spent exercising fell to about three minutes.
The results were illuminating.
During those three inactive days, blood glucose levels spiked after every meal (loss of blood sugar control) with the peaks being 25% higher than during active days.
There’s more, the peaks grew each successive day.
In other words, blood sugar went more and more out of control, the longer the subjects remained inactive.
So, what if I’m laid up for a time because of an illness, will my blood sugar soar out of control?
No, not if your bed rest is transient and you get back to a life of activity and exercise.
But – if being inactive is your way of life, this experiment shows the knock-on effect is your insulin loses its effect and you’re on the slippery slope to ill health.
You’ve got to get up and move!
Daily Mirror 21 st Oct 2012 Read More
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