Cut the Fat, Stay on Your Feet

Overweight type 2 diabetes patients preserve mobility through weight loss and improved fitness

(RxWiki News) Diabetes and obesity can weigh you down, literally. Having all that weight can make it hard to get around, especially as the years go by. Now, a new study backs up what we already know: exercise keeps you on your feet!

Overweight people with type 2 diabetes protected their mobility after losing weight and improving their fitness.

"Exercise to lose weight and control your diabetes."

Doctors and scientists have known for years that exercise can protect against many of the dangers of diabetes. But does it preserve mobility?

Apparently, it does, according to findings by W. Jack Rejeski, Ph.D., of Wake Forest University in North Carolina, and colleagues.

People with type 2 diabetes often have mobility problems, and these problems tend to get worse with age.

Dr. Rejeski and colleagues wanted to see if an intensive lifestyle intervention could slow the loss of mobility in these diabetes patients.

More than 5,000 overweight or obese adults with type 2 diabetes participated in the study. These patients were assigned to one of two treatment groups. The first was a intensive lifestyle intervention designed to cut weight. The second was a diabetes support-and-education program.

The researchers found that patients in the lifestyle intervention group reduced their risk of losing mobility by 48 percent, compared to those in the education program.

The authors write that both weight loss and improved fitness played a role in reducing this risk.

The results also show that 969 (38.5 percent) of the 2,514 patients in the lifestyle intervention group had good mobility after four years. In comparison, 31.9 percent of those in the education program had good mobility after four years.

Similarly, there were less patients with severe disability in the intervention group than in the education program group (20.6 percent versus 26.2 percent, respectively).

The authors point out that the lifestyle intervention posed some risks, including a slightly higher risk of musculoskeletal symptoms.

They conclude, "Weight loss and improved fitness slowed the decline in mobility in overweight adults with type 2 diabetes."

While this finding is not necessarily surprising, it supports the fact that exercise is beneficial to people who are overweight, have diabetes, or have both conditions.

The study received support from the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health, among many others.

The results are published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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Review Date: 
April 3, 2012