Want to know a simple way to improve your insulin sensitivity, fasting insulin, and HbA1c that you can start doing today?
Sit for one hour less per day—just one hour less! Something anyone can do.
I know that doesn’t sound like much, but according to a recent study, reducing sedentary time by just one hour per day can have remarkable benefits for your metabolic health.
Our modern-day sedentary lifestyle puts us at risk for blood sugar imbalances, weight gain, and chronic disease. But the good news is that you don’t need to do hardcore workouts or hit the gym for hours on end to get the benefits of movement.
Breaking up the time you spend sitting with simple movement throughout the day can be enough to make a significant impact on your metabolic lab markers.
Today, I’m sharing the findings from a recent study that my dear friend Chris Kresser brought to my attention after sharing it with his community a couple of weeks ago.
I’m also giving you practical tips on how to easily incorporate more movement into your daily life.
Cutting down on sedentary time is super important for our overall health, but so is prioritizing a good night’s sleep!
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Alright, let’s get into how this study went down!
Researchers in Finland studied 63 middle-aged adults with metabolic syndrome who sat for at least 10 hours per day. Participants were randomly assigned to two groups: the first group continued their sedentary lifestyle, while the second group was instructed to reduce their sedentary time by one hour per day for three months.
The goal of the study was to see if breaking up long periods of sitting with standing and light movement (e.g., walking) could have a positive impact on blood sugar and metabolic markers.
At the end of the three months, the intervention group reduced their daily sitting time by 50 minutes—not quite the goal of one hour, but we’ll take it! Shortening the duration of time spent sitting by 50 minutes was enough to significantly improve insulin sensitivity, fasting insulin, and hemoglobin A1C levels. This coincided with lower triglycerides and better markers of liver health too.
What It Means
These results are consistent with the growing body of evidence that shows less time spent sitting is beneficial for our metabolic health. What I love most about this study is that it provides a minimal viable dose for a measurable improvement, which just goes to show that you don’t need to do anything crazy to get results.
This study also shows practitioners how they can better support their patients who are at risk for cardiometabolic disease. By meeting them where they’re at and helping them set small, specific goals instead of giving the super-vague advice “eat less and exercise more,” they can help build confidence in their patients’ ability to make healthy lifestyle changes.
As we saw in the study, small bursts of movement add up over time and have the power to make a significant impact on our metabolic health.
So how can we apply the findings from this study to our own lives? What are some ways we can cut down on our sedentary behavior to improve our metabolic health?
Here are five examples of what you can do to break up sedentary time throughout the day, especially if you work from home or at a job where you’re at a desk or computer all day.
- You can stand or walk around while you’re on a phone call.
- You can do squats while you’re waiting for a meeting to start.
- You can walk around your house or office between meetings.
- You can take breaks to do clean (sweep, vacuum, mop) or tidy up.
- You can take breaks to do chores (folding laundry or doing dishes).
And sometimes, doubling down on what we already know can be one of the simplest and most effective ways to get moving.
For me, that’s going for a short, 10-minute walk. I talked about the incredible—and underrated—benefits of walking in a previous newsletter, and I stand by all of the recommendations included there.
And since you liked that newsletter so much, I turned it into an audio version where I discuss the benefits of walking for our mental AND metabolic health.
It’s a must-listen, and you can find it here.
Being sedentary for long periods of time can be dangerous to our health and increase our risk for chronic disease. But we have the power to change that—and it doesn’t have to be by doing anything too extreme.
Just getting up and moving throughout your day, whether that be walking, standing, or playing with your dog or kids—these tiny movements can make a BIG impact on your metabolic health over time.
Here’s to a little daily movement,
P.S.: I recently recorded a few more audio versions of our past Try This newsletters. You can find my episode on The Restorative Power of Yoga Nidra here and my most recent episode on A Super-Simple Hack to Optimize Your Blood Sugar here.