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%, according to new research by UCL and the University of Cambridge. Also, people who doubled their amount of exercise to about 300 minutes per week, instead of the recommended 150 minutes per week, reduced their risk of Type 2 diabetes by 36 percent.
The research, was published in the journal Diabetologia, labeled as the most comprehensive study to look at the impact of exercise, independent of other behavioural factors such as diet, on a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
According to Andrea Smith (UCL Health Behaviour Research Centre and Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge), who led the study “Our results suggest a major potential for physical activity to slow down or reverse the global increase in type 2 diabetes and should prove useful for health impact modelling, which frequently forms part of the evidence base for policy decisions.“
The study analysed data from 23 studies carried out in the USA, Asia, Australia and Europe. By combining observations from these studies, the researchers were able to separate out the effect of leisure time physical activity from other behavioural factors, and obtain better estimates of the effects of different physical activity levels.
Tips on Exercise
- Aerobic exercise should be performed at least 3 days/week with no more than 2 consecutive days between bouts of activity because of the transient nature of exercise-induced improvements in insulin action.
Aerobic exercise should be at least at moderate intensity, corresponding approximately to 40–60% of Vo2max (maximal aerobic capacity). For most people with type 2 diabetes, brisk walking is a moderate-intensity exercise. Additional benefits may be gained from vigorous exercise (>60% of Vo2max).
- Individuals with type 2 diabetes should engage in a minimum of 150 min/week of exercise undertaken at moderate intensity or greater. Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 min and be spread throughout the week. Around 150 min/week of moderate-intensity exercise is associated with reduced morbidity and mortality in observational studies in all populations.
- The U.S. federal guidelines suggest that an exercise volume of 500–1,000 MET · min/week (MET equivalent of PA × number of minutes) is optimal and can be achieved, for example, with 150 min/week of walking at 6.4 km/h (4 mph; intensity of 5 METs) or 75 min of jogging at 9.6 km/h (6 mph; 10 METs).
One should also consider that each diabetic responds differently to exercise so people should work with their doctors to make sure they are getting the benefits of exercise but not dropping their blood sugar levels too much.