In two new papers published in Diabetologia, scientists find that both the amount and timing of physical activity are important in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
In the first study, researchers from University College London and University of Cambridge examined the results of 23 cohort studies on the relationship between physical activity and incidence of type 2 diabetes.
The meta-analysis included 1,245,904 non-diabetic people from the USA, Asia, Australia and Europe. Amongst these people, 82,319 were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes during the studies’ follow-up years.
The authors found participants who achieved 150 min/week of moderate activity had a 26% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes. This is the minimum exercise amount recommended by public health guidelines.
Researchers suggest that the health benefits of physical activity are apparent even at levels below the recommended levels, compared to not doing any activity.
Furthermore, the benefits are greater for those who exceed the minimum recommendations. When physical activity is quit high, benefits continued to occur.
In the second study, researchers from the University of Otago explored whether the timing of walking in relation to meals enhances its benefits.
A total of 41 adults (aged 18-75) with type 2 diabetes performed 30 min of walking each day, either as a single block performed whenever the participant wished, or as three 10 min walks undertaken no more than 5 min after each main meal.
The study found that exercising after meals delivered a greater benefit from physical activity, resulting in significantly lower blood glucose levels.
Researchers suggest that post-meal physical activity may avoid the need for an increased total insulin dose or additional mealtime insulin injections.
An increase in insulin dose might, in turn, be associated with weight gain in patients with type 2 diabetes, many of whom are already overweight or obese.
The finding shows that the timing of physical activity may confer significant additional health benefits on top of those provided by the activity itself.
News source: Springer.
Figure legend: This Knowridge.com image is for illustrative purposes only.