Dr. Thomas Yates of University of Leicester found women who were sedentary for most of the day are at greater risk of exhibiting the early metabolic defects that act as a precursor to developing type 2 diabetes than people who tend to sit less.
The team assessed more than 500 men and women of the age of 40 or more about the amount of time spent sitting over the course of a week, helped out by tests on the level of specific chemicals in their bloodstream that are linked to diabetes and metabolic dysfunction.
The study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the women who spent the longest time sitting had higher levels of insulin, as well as higher amounts of C-reactive protein and chemicals released by fatty tissue in the abdomen, leptin and interleukin 6.
The researchers said they could not pinpoint why there was a gender difference.
"This study provides important new evidence that higher levels of sitting time have a deleterious impact on insulin resistance and chronic low-grade inflammation in women but not men and that this effect is seen regardless of how much exercise is undertaken," Yates said in a statement. "This suggests that women who meet the national recommendations of 30 minutes of exercise a day may still be compromising their health if they are seated for the rest of the day."