Just two weeks of limited mobility can have a significant impact on overweight older adults who have prediabetes, say Canadian researchers.
In a new study, participants who were moderately active reduced their daily steps from about 3,500 a day to fewer than 1,000 a day—the equivalent of being housebound or hospitalized—for two weeks. Researchers discovered that the sudden, brief period of inactivity sparked an increase in the participants’ insulin resistance, which could signal a risk of progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes. The participants’ muscle mass and strength decreased during that time as well.
Two weeks after the participants resumed normal activities, they still had not yet returned to their healthier pre-break state.
This was a small study that involved only 22 adults ages 65 to 80, so the authors’ conclusion that two weeks of inactivity could trigger diabetes in people with prediabetes might be premature. But it does hint at how quickly inactivity can affect metabolism and muscle mass.
What you should do: If you have prediabetes and become sidelined by illness, hospitalization, or bed rest for a short time, ask your doctor if you might benefit from measures like dietary changes, active rehabilitation, and possibly medication to keep your risk of diabetes in check while you recover.
This article first appeared in the October 2018 issue of UC Berkeley Health After 50.