In a recent study, researchers find that walking briskly or cycling for the recommended 150 minutes a week can reduce a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 26%.
University College of London and the University of Cambridge conducted the research. The finding is published in the journal Diabetologia.
Previous studies have often included changes to both diet and physical activity, making it difficult to isolate the impact of physical activity alone.
In the study, researchers looked at the impact of exercise, independent of other behavioral factors such as diet, on a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
They analyzed data from 23 studies carried out in the USA, Asia, Australia and Europe.
By combining observations from these studies, researchers were able to separate out the effect of leisure time physical activity from other factors, and obtain better estimates of the effects of different physical activity levels.
They result showed that people who carry out 1 hour of moderate to vigorous exercise every day can reduce their risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 40%.
In addition, the study revealed that any amount of physical activity could reduce the risk of developing the disease.
Researchers suggest that this is the most comprehensive study checking the independent influence of physical activity on diabetes risk.
It demonstrates that while any amount of physical activity is good for us, the benefits of exercise are greater for people who exceed a recommended level.
The recommended level is set by the UK Department of Health, which recommends 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week, which includes brisk walking, gentle cycling or sports such as doubles tennis.
This is good news for public health. Currently, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is growing rapidly due to rising obesity levels. It is estimated to reach nearly 600 million cases worldwide by 2035.
This research adds more detail to our understanding of how changes in the levels of physical activity across populations could impact the incidence of disease. They also lend support to policies to increase physical activity at all levels.
Citation: Smith AD, et al. (2016). Physical activity and incident type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and dose–response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Diabetologia, published online. DOI:10.1007/s00125-016-4079-0.
Figure legend: This Knowridge.com image is for illustrative purposes only.