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Have Diabetes? Lifestyle Changes May Help Mobility

Study Shows Modest Weight Loss and Exercise Can Cut Loss-of-Mobility Risk by About 50%

Weight Loss and Exercise to Prevent Mobility Problems continued...

After four years, people in the diet and exercise group had lost, on average, about 6% of their body weight. For a person who weighs 250 pounds, that’s about a 15-pound loss.

The scale hadn’t moved much for the group that got diabetes education. They lost, on average, less than 1% of their total body weight, or just over 2 pounds for a person who weighs 250.

People in the lifestyle intervention group were also more active. They burned about 881 calories per week, compared to 99 calories a week in the education group.

The lifestyle group made modest changes, on average. But those changes were still enough, in many cases, to reap big health benefits.

People in the lifestyle group cut their risk of mobility-related disability by nearly 50% compared to people in the education group.

They were also less likely to report severe problems with their mobility. About 1 in 4 people in the education group reported severe mobility-related disability, meaning that they had difficulty with nearly all daily tasks, compared to 1 in 5 people in the lifestyle-change group.

When researchers looked more closely to see if it was weight loss or improved fitness that was responsible for the benefits, they found that both were important, though weight loss seemed to have a slightly larger impact.

For every 1% reduction in weight, researchers calculated that people cut their loss-of-mobility risk by 7.3%. For every 1% improvement in fitness, the mobility-related disability risk dropped by 1.4%.

“The message is clearly that both are important. To ignore one or the other if you’re overweight or obese would be a big mistake,” Rejeski says.

That’s because previous studies have found that exercise helps maintain weight loss and can help prevent yo-yo dieting, where large amounts of weight are rapidly gained and lost over and over again. Yo-yo dieting can slow metabolism, ultimately leading to weight gain over the longer term, Rejeski says.

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