It is customary to ask a person if he/she got their exercise session in for the day. In the future it may be, how much time have you spent on your feet. A recent study of people with Type 2 diabetes is causing us to question the notion that the duration and intensity of exercise are sufficient to assess whether a person has had enough exercise. When the group of study subjects were on their feet more (walking 2 hrs and standing 3 hrs per day broken up over the course of the day) they reduced their blood sugars 36 per cent more in a 24-hour period than when they only stood 1 hr. and walked 1 hr. They also decreased their insulin resistance over a 24 hr. period more than when they biked for 65 minutes all at one time. Turned out that when biking, the group was sitting more overall, than when the group was walking/standing for the total of 5 hrs.
The conclusion is not to give up the cardiovascular activity which, in the study improved glucose levels as did the walking/standing group, but consider ways of reducing overall sitting time, since the walking/standing group also experienced less insulin resistance, so overall better glycemic control. This study involved people who have diabetes but could, if confirmed by other studies, help reduce the development of type 2 diabetes, since insulin resistance is a large factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.
So, the challenge is to find ways to build more activity into our routine, whether it be standing when talking on the phone or getting up every 30 minutes from a sitting position, as the study group did, to walk or to do a few exercises, taking stairs instead of elevator, parking farther away, etc. We are all likely to benefit from less sitting time, whether it be improved bone density, joint mobility, cardiovascular benefits (blood pressure), body fat, better sleep, or even just from an improved sense of well-being.