We can’t imagine why you’d need another reason to get off the couch, but just in case, here’s the latest: A sedentary lifestyle is associated with greater risk of prediabetes, even for healthy-weight adults, according to a new study.
The finding may help explain why roughly a third of slim American adults have prediabetes—elevated blood sugar but not full-blown diabetes, University of Florida researchers said.
“We have found that a lot of people who we would consider to be at healthy weight—they’re not overweight or obese—are not metabolically healthy,” said lead investigator Arch Mainous III, chair of health services research, management and policy in the university’s College of Public Health and Health Professions.
For the study, Mainous and his colleagues looked at data from more than 1,000 people, aged 20 and older, all of whom had a healthy weight and no diagnosis of diabetes. Those with an inactive lifestyle were more likely than active people to have a blood sugar level of 5.7 or higher, which the American Diabetes Association classifies as prediabetes. About 25 percent of all inactive people and more than 40 percent of inactive people 45 and older met the prediabetes or diabetes criteria.
The study didn’t establish a cause-and-effect relationship. The inactive people in the study may have unhealthy “normal-weight obesity or skinny fat,” otherwise known as a high proportion of fat to lean muscle, the researchers said.
But their “findings suggest that sedentary lifestyle is overlooked when we think in terms of healthy weight. We shouldn’t focus only on calorie intake, weight or [body mass index] at the expense of activity,” Mainous said.
Prediabetes increases the risk of diabetes and other health problems, so the study adds to growing evidence that inactivity is unhealthy, the researchers said.
“Don’t focus solely on the scale and think you’re OK,” Mainous said. “If you have a sedentary lifestyle, make sure you get up and move.”