Physical exercise reduces risk of developing diabetes

Researchers have found that higher levels of Leisure-time Physical Activity (LTPA), such as walking, jogging or running, are linked to a lower risk of diabetes in high-risk individuals.

 

And they have observed health benefits from low-intensity physical activity too – making it possible for older people to take steps to improve their health and reduce the risk of diabetes.

 

The research team, led by experts from the University of Birmingham, recommends that swift action is taken by health chiefs to promote physical activity as a way of reducing diabetes and combating China’s growing obesity epidemic.

 

Over an 18-year period, researchers studied the lifestyles of 44,828 Chinese adults, aged between 20 and 80, who had been recently diagnosed with impaired fasting glucose (IFG) – an early warning signal for type 2 diabetes affecting one in four Chinese adults.

 

Professor Neil Thomas, from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Applied Health Research, commented: “About one fifth of the observed diabetes cases which developed could have been avoided if inactive individuals had engaged in World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended levels of exercise.

 

“In the approximately 370 million Chinese adults with IFG, increasing LTPA by one category – for example, from low to moderate – would correspond to a potential reduction of at least seven million cases of diabetes. It may also offset the rapid increases in diabetes resulting from population ageing and China’s ongoing obesity epidemic.

 

“However, more than three-quarters of Chinese adults do not perform sufficient physical activity to reap such health benefits. Our findings emphasise the urgent need to promote physical activity as a strategy for diabetes prevention.”

 

The paper ‘Increased leisure-time physical activity associated with lower onset of diabetes in 44 828 adults with impaired fasting glucose: a population-based prospective cohort study’ is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine - http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2018/01/12/bjsports-2017-098199 (DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-098199)

 

13 April 2018.