Diabetes Research

Standing is associated with insulin sensitivity in sedentary adults

woman sitting at computer

A Finnish collaborative study investigates the association between standing and insulin sensitivity in adults with metabolic syndrome and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It controls blood glucose levels and energy metabolism. Normal insulin function may be affected by several factors, such as genetics, sedentary lifestyle, or excess body weight. Low insulin sensitivity may lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, common among adults, the cells do not respond normally to insulin. The resulting high blood sugar level causes serious health problems such as vision loss or kidney disease.

Published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, the study included 64 middle-aged sedentary adults (40-65 years). Sedentary behavior breaks in sedentary behavior, and physical activity were measured for four weeks with hip-worn accelerometers. Accelerometers are sensing devices that can detect the frequency and intensity of movement in humans. Insulin sensitivity was assessed using the hyperinsulinaemic-euglycaemic clamp technique and fasting blood sampling was measured using the Homeostatic Model Assessment for Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR).

Standing could improve insulin sensitivity

Results show that standing is associated with whole-body insulin sensitivity markers, independent of physical activity, sitting time, fitness level, or adiposity. The novel findings suggest that standing has the potential to improve insulin sensitivity in inactive adults with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The researchers explain that the improved insulin sensitivity is likely due to the muscle contraction required for standing, which contributes to whole-body glucose disposal.

However, in healthy populations, standing is not enough to improve insulin metabolism and insulin sensitivity is not affected when standing replaces sitting. The data suggest that physical activity improves the overall body composition which in turn affects insulin. Physical activity, fitness, and sedentary behavior are associated with insulin metabolism through their effect on body composition (body fat proportion).

The researchers highlight that maintaining healthy body weight is essential for metabolic health and for preventing the development of type 2 diabetes in adults.

Resource:

Taru Garthwaite, Tanja Sjöros, Mikko Koivumäki, Saara Laine, Henri Vähä-Ypyä, Maria Saarenhovi, Petri Kallio, Eliisa Löyttyniemi, Harri Sievänen, Noora Houttu, Kirsi Laitinen, Kari Kalliokoski, Tommi Vasankari, Juhani Knuuti, Ilkka Heinonen. Standing is associated with insulin sensitivity in adults with metabolic syndrome. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 2021; DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2021.08.009

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