If you spend most of your day sitting -- even if you do make time for exercise -- you are still placing yourself at higher risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, according to new research.
Researchers from the University of Missouri conducted a review of past research and found that when people go from being highly active to inactive, there are changes in the body that occur that increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Researchers defined "highly active" as taking more than 10,000 steps a day, and "inactive" as taking fewer than 5,000 steps a day. Their work will be published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
"If people can add some regular movement into their routines throughout the day, they will feel better and be less susceptible to health problems," study researcher John Thyfault, assistant professor in nutrition and exercise physiology and internal medicine at the university, said in a statement. "In the long term, they may not see big changes in the mirror, but they will prevent further weight gain."
Diabetes is a widespread problem -- the disease affects 8.3 percent of the U.S. population, according to the American Diabetes Association. And nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a relatively new epidemic, and occurs when fat builds up in the liver and affects insulin resistance and can spur Type 2 diabetes.
Taking 500 to 1,000 steps every few hours is a good activity goal, researchers said. Increasing the number of steps a person takes each day can come from small things, like choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Recent research shows that these small bits of exercise can add up throughout the day to be beneficial for health. A Harvard School of Public Health study showed that people who exercise less than 150 minutes a day still have a lower risk of coronary heart disease than people who don't exercise at all, though of course that risk is lowered the more you exercise.
This isn't the first study to look at the detrimental health effects of sitting on our health. A study published earlier this summer showed that sitting for more than six hours a day can increase the risk of death, with the effects being more pronounced in women than in men.
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