Exercise Fights Diabetes at Every Weight
Regardless of Weight, Physical Activity Lowers Diabetes Risks
Sept. 25, 2003 -- If the recent avalanche of studies on the
health benefits of even moderate physical activity wasn't enough to get you out
the door, here's one more shove. A new study shows a brisk 30-minute walk every
day can substantially lower a person's risk of diabetes, no matter how much
Researchers found that regardless of their age or body weight,
men and women who were physically active for at least 30 minutes a day were
less likely to develop type 2 diabetes -- the type of diabetes more commonly
seen in overweight or inactive adults.
"We have found that men and women who incorporate activity
into their lifestyles are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who
are sedentary. This finding holds no matter what their initial weight,"
says researcher Andrea Kriska, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at the
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, in a news
More Active, Less Diabetes Risk
In the study, researchers followed a group of more than 1,700
men and women 15-59 years old who were at least half Pima, Tohono-O'odham, or a
combination of these related American Indian tribes for six years. Both of
these tribes traditionally have high rates of diabetes.
The participants were questioned about their leisure and
occupational physical activity, and the amount of physical activity was
calculated according to the number of hours per week and intensity of the
The results appear in the Oct. 1 issue of the American
Journal of Epidemiology.
Unlike previous studies that have looked at physical activity
and diabetes risk, researchers say they tested for the presence of diabetes at
the end of the study by using a diabetes test called an oral glucose tolerance
test rather than self-reporting from the participants.
Overall, 346 participants developed type 2 diabetes during the
course of the study.
Researchers found that fewer individuals who were physically
active (defined as at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day)
developed diabetes than others.
This finding was true among both men and women, although the
link between physical activity and lower diabetes risk was more consistent in
women. But researchers say this disparity may have been a result of
inadequately measuring the level of physical activity in the men's occupational
"Our feeling is that men and women likely reap the same
positive results from activity, whether it is in the form of leisure activity
or occupational activity," says Kriska. "This suggests that adopting
and maintaining a program of regular physical activity similar to what the
Surgeon General's recommendations suggest can play a significant role in
preventing type 2 diabetes."
The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that adults engage in at
least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on all or most days of the