Our research reveals for the first time, that short breaks from sitting time - also known as ‘activity snacking’ - can help people with type 1 diabetes to spend more time with their blood sugar levels in target range.
Long periods of sitting time can be harmful to our health, even if you exercise regularly. But 'activity snacking' could offer people a simple, cost-free way to help manage their blood sugar levels and potentially reduce their risk of future complications.
Previous research has shown that breaking up periods of sitting with short, frequent walks can help people with type 2 diabetes reduce their blood sugar levels and their risk of complications. This is because being active can increase the amount of glucose (sugar) used by muscles and can help the body to use insulin more effectively.
But until now we haven’t known if people with type 1 diabetes could see the same benefits. Or if there could be any risks, such as having more hypos.
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 on blood sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes. He’ll be presenting his findings at our Professional Conference (DUKPC) later this week.
Less sitting time
In the study, 32 participants completed two seven-hour sitting sessions over a two-week period.
During one session, participants remained seated for the full seven hours. 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. Everyone was given a standardised breakfast and lunch, and they were asked to stick to the same diet, activity levels and insulin doses over the study period.
Blood sugar benefits
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 with blood sugar levels in the target range (3.9-10 mmol/L) by 14%.
The improvement in time-in-range was seen over the whole 48-hour study period after the breaks from sitting session, including after meals and at night. Crucially, breaks from sitting didn’t increase hypos (low blood sugar levels).
Dr Matthew Campbell, at the University of Sunderland, said:
Dr Elizabeth Robertson, our Director of Research, said:
Stay tuned for more breaking DUKPC research news all week.