Being a couch potato can do more than making you look like one. It steers you towards a life of diabetes, and more so if you are a woman, say researchers.
The report published in the journal Diabetes Care, was based on research carried out by lead author Dr. David W. Dunstan and team from the International Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia.
The researchers reviewed data from people who confessed to sedentary lives ruled by lots of TV and very little exercise.
They examined the association between television viewing and blood glucose levels, measured after fasting and after a glucose test-drink, in 3781 men and 4576 women. All of the subjects were free of diabetes at the time.
It was found that after accounting for physical activity time and for factors that can affect blood glucose, the more time women spent television viewing, the higher were their blood glucose levels two hours after they took the glucose test-drink.
Yet, this link was not seen in men.
"The findings reinforce the case for a strong focus in diabetes and obesity research on sedentary behaviors, such as television viewing, in addition to the now well-established base of evidence on the importance of increasing physical activity", Dunstan reported.
"It is possible that other sedentary behaviors may have an additive effect on risk, in that TV viewing may be a marker for a broader pattern of sedentary lifestyle that includes a variety of other forms of sitting time," he suggested.
Dr. Richard Galloway, an endocrinologist at Hattiesburg Clinic, Mississippi agrees. He says that 30 minutes of exercise a day for five days a week is sufficient.
For someone diagnosed with pre-diabetes - higher than normal blood glucose levels but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes - exercise can serve as a preventive measure, he opines.
Galloway also advises diabetics to visit their doctors at least twice a year, or up to four times per year if sugar levels are not under control.
"One of the most important things you can do is to see your doctor on a regular basis", he was quoted.