People who engage in higher levels of physical activity in their leisure time reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Researchers at the U.K.’s University of Birmingham found that walking, jogging and running are linked to a lower risk in individuals who are at high risk.
They also found that low-intensity physical activity helps as well, which makes it possible for older people to improve their health and reduce the risk of diabetes.
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.
Every year 6 percent to 9 percent of individuals with IFG progress to diabetes and, compared to non-diabetics, they have a higher risk of death from vascular and chronic kidney disease.
The researchers also tracked the participants’ leisure-time physical activity (LTPA).
“We found that higher levels of LTPA are associated with a lower risk of diabetes in a large population of Chinese adults with IFG,” said Professor Neil Thomas, from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Applied Health Research.
“About one fifth of the observed diabetes cases which developed could have been avoided if inactive individuals had engaged in World Health Organization (WHO) recommended levels of exercise,” he said.
Compared with inactive participants, diabetes risk in individuals reporting low, moderate and high volume LTPA was reduced by 12 percent, 20 percent, and 25 percent respectively after adjusting for physical labor at work and other factors.
The study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Avoiding diabetes can also increase lifespan. A study published in JAMA found that Type 2 diabetes reduces lifespan by almost a decade. The study, which included more than 512,000 Chinese adults, found that those who were diagnosed with the metabolic disease in middle age lost, on average, nine years of life when compared to people who didn’t have the disease.
More than 29 million Americans have diabetes, and it’s the seventh leading cause of death, according to the American Diabetes Association. More than a quarter of Americans age 65 and older have the condition.
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