Being physically active is always promoted to have a beneficial effect on the human body. In fact, for many metabolic conditions, one of the key elements in the management strategy involves physical exercise.
So, it is only natural to expect a similar assessment for diabetes where physical exercise is propagated to be beneficial to managing diabetes. Yet, it is not enough to state that physical activity helps manage diabetes. Ethnicity also plays a factor in how much physical activity is enough for diabetes to be kept in control.
While there are numerous studies that have propagated the health benefit of physical exercise, one particular study has gone on to pool all the data of several research papers on the topic.
Scientists at University College, London, Karolinska Institute, Sweden, and University of Cambridge analyzed the results of 28 different studies that looked at total physical activity, leisure time physical activity and the observed risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The studies chosen were conducted in different parts of the world and included all the major continents. The total number of individuals in the studies included 1,261,991. Out of this number, 84,134 individuals were diabetics.
The review collected the data and noted that when the physical activity was much higher than the recommended limit, there was a 36% reduction in diabetes risk.
This meant moderate exercise for more than 300 min/week could exert this positive effect.
A further increase in physical activity beyond the 300 min/week resulted in an even further 53% reduction in physical activity.
With these statistical numbers, I am sure you are imagining a rigorous workout in a gym. Well, while that is certainly beneficial to the motivated, there are others who have to start with baby steps. In the case of exercise, cycling and even brisk walking have benefits for type 2 diabetes.
In the UK, the recommended limit is 150 minutes of exercise in the moderate to vigorous range. And yet, not everyone appears to be meeting this limit. And as we all know, the rate of diabetes incidence is increasing globally.
What the study by Dr. Andrea B. Smith and others have shown that you do not have to limit yourself to just 150 minutes of physical activity. You can increase it if you want. The more you exercise, the less chances of you getting diabetes.
It is recommended that more research is required in different ethnic populations to see how much of exercise is needed in the specific context. For example, Indians of Asian origin have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and require more amount of physical activity.
The results of the study will also help health policies to incorporate ways and means of making physical exercise a part of our daily existence in the same way as eating, watching television, or chilling out. In the long run, it is a far more inexpensive way to live a healthy, worry-free life!