Diabetics Live Better Through Exercise

Diabetes patients may lower risk of death through regular physical activity

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Exercise is one of the most important parts of managing diabetes. It helps you shed pounds and control blood sugar. Exercise may even save your life.

Diabetes patients with higher levels of physical activity had a lower risk of death than those with lower levels of activity, according to a recent study.

"Stay active to control your diabetes."

Whether or not a patient needs drugs, diabetes management almost always involves a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Diewertje Sluik, MSc, of the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke, and colleagues wanted to see how physical activity affected the risk of death among people with diabetes.

They found that physical activity was associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease and death from all causes.

"I have worked with many people who have had dangerously high numbers for cholesterol, blood pressure, body fat, and other medical benchmark numbers. After a steady stream of working out, I have seen - in almost every case - those numbers decrease in severity," said Jim Crowell, athletic training expert and owner of Integrated Fitness.

"When coupled with healthy nutrition plans, their health increased even more. Because of the implications that cholesterol, body fat, and blood pressure have on heart disease, I am a huge believer that exercising regularly will drastically improve your heart health over time. When you take a consistent approach to exercising you will feel better and live a healthier livelihood," said Crowell, who was not involved in the study.

Compared to study participants who were not active, moderately active patients had the lowest risk of death from all causes, with a hazard ratio of 0.62.

Hazard ratios explain how much an event happens in one group versus another. A hazard ratio of less than one means the event happens less often in one group versus the other. In this case, the event was risk of death. So, moderately active patients were less likely than their inactive counterparts to have an early death.

The researchers also found that moderately active patients were less likely than inactive patients to die from heart disease, with a hazard ratio of 0.51.

Leisure-time physical activity (e.g. household chores or walking to the grocery store) was associated with a lower risk of death. In addition, walking was associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease.

"Higher levels of physical activity were associated with lower [risk of death] in individuals with diabetes," the authors said.

"Even those undertaking moderate amounts of activity were at appreciably lower risk for early death compared with inactive persons," they said.

These findings add to the wide body of evidence showing that people with diabetes should exercise regularly.

The study was supported by a grant from the European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes/Sanofi.

The research, which involved 5,859 people with diabetes, was published August 6 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 15, 2012
Last Updated:
August 23, 2012