People with type 2 diabetes are advised to avoid spending too much time sitting or lying down, but there aren’t any specific approaches to support them to do this. Dr Daniel Bailey has devised a programme to help people reduce their sitting time, and he now wants to test it with people with type 2 diabetes. In the future, this could provide a simple way to support people with type 2 to improve their blood sugar levels and reduce their risk of heart disease.
Background to research
Spending a lot of time sedentary (sitting or lying down) can be bad for your overall health. In people with type 2 diabetes, it has been linked with a greater risk of heart disease and higher blood glucose levels.
Being sedentary is different from being physically inactive: someone might get their recommended amount exercise per week, but could spend the rest of their working and leisure time sitting down.
Breaking up long periods of sitting with standing or light physical activity is recommended for people with type 2 diabetes. But advice on how best to do this isn’t currently part of normal type 2 diabetes care.
Dr Bailey has developed a programme to help people with type 2 diabetes reduce their sitting time. It’s tailored to each individual, allowing them to choose the tools (such as mobile phone apps or wearable fitness devices) they’ll use to do this. Users will receive support from a health coach, as well as online education about the risks of sitting too much and how sitting time could be reduced.
Dr Bailey now wants to see how feasible his intervention really is. To do this, he will recruit 50 people with type 2 diabetes who will receive the new programme or normal diabetes care for six months.
Before the study begins, the research team will measure sitting time, physical activity levels and overall health. They’ll then repeat the tests three and six months later.
The aim of this research is to see whether people like the programme and choose to use it, and how easy it is for the researchers to take the measurements they need to see how well it worked. This would inform further, larger studies that would test the effectiveness of this type of programme to reduce sedentary behaviour when delivered through the NHS.
Potential benefit to people with diabetes
If successful, this research could lead to a larger trial to see if this programme could reduce time spent sitting and lying down. In the future, strategies like this could be offered as part of normal care for people with type 2 diabetes, to help them to improve their health and wellbeing.