The solution, Levine said, is not extra gym time, which doesn't seem to offset the risk.
"Rather, the solution seems to be less sitting and more moving," he wrote. "Simply by standing, you burn three times as many calories as you do sitting. Muscle contractions, including the ones required for standing, seem to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars. When you sit down, muscle contractions cease and these processes stall."
Another new study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed that blood sugar tends to spike more with low activity levels.
Researchers at the University of Missouri asked people who usually exercised to spend three days in a sedentary lifestyle. Although the participants ate the same foods, their blood sugar spiked after meals, increasing by about 26 percent, compared with their blood sugar levels when they exercised.
"You don't have to run marathons," John P. Thyfault, an associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri, told The New York Times. "But the evidence is clear that you do need to move."