Interrupting prolonged sitting in type 2 diabetes: nocturnal persistence of improved glycaemic control

Diabetologia. 2017 Mar;60(3):499-507. doi: 10.1007/s00125-016-4169-z. Epub 2016 Dec 9.


Aims/hypothesis: We aimed to examine the effect of interrupting 7 h prolonged sitting with brief bouts of walking or resistance activities on 22 h glucose homeostasis (including nocturnal-to-following morning hyperglycaemia) in adults with type 2 diabetes.

Methods: This study is an extension of a previously published randomised crossover trial, which included 24 inactive overweight/obese adults with type 2 diabetes (14 men; 62 ± 6 years) who completed three 7 h laboratory conditions, separated by 6-14 day washout periods: SIT: (1) prolonged sitting (control); (2) light-intensity walking (LW): sitting plus 3 min bouts of light-intensity walking at 3.2 km/h every 30 min; (3) simple resistance activities (SRA): sitting plus 3 min bouts of simple resistance activities (alternating half-squats, calf raises, brief gluteal contractions and knee raises) every 30 min. In the present study, continuous glucose monitoring was performed for 22 h, encompassing the 7 h laboratory trial, the evening free-living period after leaving the laboratory and sleeping periods. Meals and meal times were standardised across conditions for all participants.

Results: Compared with SIT, both LW and SRA reduced 22 h glucose [SIT: 11.6 ± 0.3 mmol/l, LW: 8.9 ± 0.3 mmol/l, SRA: 8.7 ± 0.3 mmol/l; p < 0.001] and nocturnal mean glucose concentrations [SIT: 10.6 ± 0.4 mmol/l, LW: 8.1 ± 0.4 mmol/l, SRA: 8.3 ± 0.4 mmol/l; p < 0.001]. Furthermore, mean glucose concentrations were sustained nocturnally at a lower level until the morning following the intervention for both LW and SRA (waking glucose both -2.7 ± 0.4 mmol/l compared with SIT; p < 0.001).

Conclusions/interpretation: Interrupting 7 h prolonged sitting time with either LW or SRA reduced 22 h hyperglycaemia. The glycaemic improvements persisted after these laboratory conditions and nocturnally, until waking the following morning. These findings may have implications for adults with relatively well-controlled type 2 diabetes who engage in prolonged periods of sitting, for example, highly desk-bound workers.

Trial registration: ACTRN12613000576729 FUNDING: : This research was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) project grant (no. 1081734) and the Victorian Government Operational Infrastructure Support scheme.

Keywords: Cardiometabolic risk; Diabetes; Glycaemic control; Glycaemic variability; Nocturnal glycaemia; Physical activity; Resistance exercise; Sedentary behaviour; Sitting; Walking.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postprandial Period
  • Posture / physiology
  • Walking / physiology


  • Blood Glucose