Long periods of sitting is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes regardless of whether physical activity is carried out outside of the long sitting periods, that is the conclusion from a new Canadian study.

The study involved a meta-analysis of 47 different studies, 14 of which were directly concerned with diabetes and cardiovascular risk. The results showed that the people that lived the most sedentary lives recorded a 91% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The increased risk remained even within participants that exercised for up to an hour each day.

Long sitting periods also increased the risks of cardiovascular disease, cancer and deaths from these conditions, albeit the increase in risk of these outcomes were significantly smaller than the increase in risk observed for type 2 diabetes.

Most of our time is spent sitting

The researchers note that more than half of the average person’s waking hours are spent sitting, be that as part of office working, relaxing at home, driving or using other transport. An important question raised by the study is whether the recommendations to take regular exercise is enough to decrease risks of long term health conditions and type 2 diabetes in particular.

Within their interpretation of the findings, the researchers note that we should aim to not only exercise regularly but to also take action to reduce the amount of time we sit for by 2 to 3 hours of a 12 hour day.