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Dec 16, 2015 06:37 AM EST

Standing and walking, even briefly, improves blood sugar levels

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A new study from the UK suggests that brief periods of standing or walking may improve blood sugar levels in older women at risk for type 2 diabetes, Reuters reports.

The study found that standing up or walking improved blood sugar, or glucose levels among postmenopausal women at risk for diabetes, compared to those who sat for 7.5 hours.

"We were really interested in seeing whether breaking up that sitting time with standing or walking had a role in breaking up glucose levels throughout the day," said lead author Joseph Henson, of the University of Leicester.

For the study, the researchers studied 22 overweight postmenopausal women at risk for diabetes, and three possible daily routines.

The women in the study were asked to follow two of the routines on separate days, at least a week apart.  They either sat for 7.5 hours, or they would stand up for five minutes every half hour, or they'd walk for five minutes every half hour.

The results showed that as compared to women who sat for the entire 7.5 hours, those who stood every half hour had a 34 percent smaller increase in glucose levels after eating. Also, spikes in glucose were reduced by 28 percent among those who walked every half hour.

The researchers also found that Increased concentrations of naturally-produced insulin were also smaller among women who stood or walked every half hour.

"There was no difference between standing or walking," Henson told Reuters Health. "It showed that it didn't matter what you do as long as you get out of the chair."

"It was simply standing still and the walking was only really light," he said. "They picked the walking speed. It was barely breaking sweat."

Henson suggested that the results of the study showed that it may be that muscle activity triggers the body to start utilizing glucose for energy.

However, he added that more research would be required to ascertain why getting out of a chair improved glucose and insulin levels.  

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