A new study from the University of Otago, led by Ph.D. student Jennifer Gale, has found that interrupting prolonged sitting time in the evening can lower blood sugar and insulin levels by 31.5% and 26.6%, respectively.
Gale highlights how evenings are often the most sedentary period for people, with many spending over three hours watching streaming services like Netflix.
This is especially concerning since the evening is also when insulin action is at its lowest, creating a high-risk environment for disease development.
The “Netflix and Move” Study
Dubbed the ‘Netflix and Move Study,’ the research involved 30 healthy adults aged between 19 and 39.
Participants were asked to break up four hours of evening sitting time with three minutes of simple resistance exercises every 30 minutes.
The findings, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, suggest that doing these short bursts of activity improves the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, offering a promising strategy for glycemic control.
Gale, who is based in the Department of Human Nutrition, notes that sitting for extended periods has already been associated with increased risks for diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
“When you combine the evening’s lower insulin activity with prolonged sitting, it creates a dangerous mix that can promote disease,” she warns.
A Suggestion for Streaming Services
Given the prevalence of streaming services in people’s daily lives, the study’s authors recommend that platforms like Netflix consider integrating prompts into their apps to encourage viewers to take short activity breaks.
These breaks could include light resistance exercises that are simple but effective in improving the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar.
The study’s results align well with existing health guidelines that advocate for reduced sitting time and increased physical activity. “Sit less and move more isn’t just daytime advice; it’s 24/7 advice,” says Gale.
With increasing evidence pointing to the health risks of prolonged sedentary behavior, it’s clear that small, regular activity breaks—especially in the evening—can have a meaningful impact on health.
For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about 5 dangerous signs you have diabetes-related eye disease, and results showing why pomegranate is super fruit for people with diabetes.
The research findings can be found in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
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