Prolonged Sitting And Diabetes: Health Risks And How To Avoid Them

If you have diabetes, you probably already know how important exercise is to maintaining healthy lifestyle. What you may not know is that long walk at lunchtime or after work isn't enough to combat the effects of working at a sedentary job all day. That spells bad news for those with office jobs that sit at a desk all day. Although sitting all day at work can lead to health problems for nearly anyone, people with diabetes may be effected more than the average office worker for a number of reasons. Understanding how prolonged sitting increases your risks and how you can avoid them puts you in charge of your diabetes health care.

Diabetics  and Metabolic Syndrome

Many people with diabetes develop metabolic syndrome, a condition that leads to several inter-related medical conditions. Prolonged sitting can contribute to metabolic syndrome complicating the treatment of diabetes. 

  • Blood Glucose

Sitting for prolonged periods each day causes insulin resistance. This means that your cells cannot absorb the glucose from your blood, causing your glucose levels to rise. According to Smithsonian, this results in both higher glucose levels two hours after eating, and higher levels after fasting. For those with diabetes, increased insulin resistance often means poorly controlled glucose levels that can lead to a host of medical problems, such as blurred vision and nerve pain. High glucose levels also contribute to fatigue and mental cloudiness.

  • High Blood Pressure & Cardiovascular Disease

Sitting all day also poses an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. This comes as a double whammy for those with diabetes as diabetes also causes an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. According to the Mayo Clinic those who spend more than four hours a day sitting in front of computer or TV are 125 percent more likely to suffer from cardiovascular events than those who spend less than two hours a day sitting. Part of the equation results from increased blood pressure that causes stress to the cardiovascular system.

  • Cholesterol Levels & Obesity

A sedentary lifestyle also contributes to higher cholesterol levels and obesity, explains the Mayo Clinic. High cholesterol levels and obesity play an integral role in diabetes and pose additional health risks, such as increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Obesity increases insulin resistance which leads to higher glucose levels.

If your work requires long hours of sitting at a desk, you may think you are doomed to suffer the risks associated with prolonged sitting, but there are alternatives to improve your health and reduce the risks. 

  • Physical Breaks: Take breaks, even if it is just to walk down the hall to get a drink. This gets the muscles moving and reduces the risks associated with sitting all day. Get into the habit of getting up and moving during natural breaks in your work schedule. This also burns calories and may assist in losing excess weight, says Mayo Clinic.
  • Use a Standing Desk: A good adjustable standing desk allows you to sit or stand during the work day. The Smithsonian recommends balancing your time between sitting and standing, as standing all day can lead to knee, foot and back problems. If you have difficulty standing for prolonged periods, adjust the desk so that you can alternate between sitting and standing as you adjust to your new work station.

If you have diabetes and work at a sedentary job that requires sitting for long hours every day, you owe it to yourself to take measures to reduce the risks. Transitioning to standing instead of sitting while working is one change you can make that may ward off future health problems.