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The Diabetes-Desk Connection

Dec 14, 2020

~Another reason to move more and sit less during the work day

The Harvard School of Public Health says that 9 out of 10 cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by not being overweight, not smoking, and regularly exercising. (1) However, another factor has been added to the list of things that you can do to prevent diabetes: avoid extended periods of sitting. In other words, being sedentary all day leads to a higher risk for developing diabetes.

And it isn’t just a small increase in risk. Studies show that sitting for too long can double your risk for diabetes. The diabetes connection isn’t just because you’re burning fewer calories, which can lead to weight gain. When you sit, enzymes in your muscles change in a way that increases blood sugar levels. As we’ve mentioned in our Hazards of Sedentary Occupations blog, your daily workout is not enough to fix the problem. (2)

[It is not good enough to exercise for 30 minutes a day and be sedentary for 23.5 hours. ~ Dr. David A. Alter]

If you’re sedentary for many hours a day, going to the gym will definitely help, but the research suggests that you also need to interrupt that sedentary time. (3) According to recent recommendations from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), people with diabetes should interrupt long periods of sitting every half hour with at least three minutes of light activity, such as walking, leg extensions, or overhead arm movements.

The recommendation to move three minutes or more at least every 30 minutes is a shift for the ADA, which previously called for moving every 90 minutes during long periods of sedentary activity. Three minutes or more of light activity “improves blood sugar management in people who have sedentary jobs and in people who are overweight, obese, and who have difficulty maintaining blood sugars in a healthy range.” (4) The ADA says this applies not only when people with diabetes are at work but also when they are at home.

Check out FIT2order’s Work Break for People with Diabetes, based on the ADA’s recommendations.

[The most important time to move may be right after eating.]

In addition to taking movement breaks, the American Diabetes Association encourages those with diabetes to walk regularly. A 20 to 30 minute walk can help lower blood sugar for up to 24 hours. Even better, time your walks after your meals, especially after dinner. Research has shown that taking an evening constitutional was found to be much more effective at lowering blood sugar following supper. The evening meal, often the largest of the day, can significantly raise 24-hour glucose levels. (3)

If you or someone you know has pre-diabetes or diabetes 2, you can find more information about our online, interactive eLearning Modules HERE.


  1. Harvard School of Public Health Website. Accessed August 5, 2020.
  2. Diabetes and the Desk Job: How to Beat the Odds. A Healthier Accessed August 5, 2020.
  3. Spero, D. Sitting with Diabetes. Diabetes Self-Management Website. (2017). Accessed August 5, 2020.
  4. Colberg SR, Sigal RJ, Yardley JE, et al. Physical activity/exercise and diabetes: a position statement of the American Diabetes Association.Diabetes Care. 2016; 39(11): 2065-2079.



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