By John Salak –
Genetics does not have to pre-ordain certain individuals to develop specific diseases, at least when it comes to type 2 diabetes.
Just an hour of exercise daily can substantially lower the chance the high generic-risk individuals developing the disease, according to research out of Australia.
The University of Sydney’s research specifically found higher levels of total physical activity, especially moderate-to vigorous-intensity physical activity, had a strong connection with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
It is great news for the almost 30 million people in the US that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report already have type 2 diabetes. It is perhaps more important for the 100 million Americans who are currently classified as pre-diabetic.
The researchers stress that their work demonstrates that physical activity should be promoted as a strategy for type 2 diabetes prevention.
The Australian study focused on almost 60,000 adults from the UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database and research resource. The participants wore accelerometers (activity trackers worn on their wrists) at the start of the study and were then followed for up to seven years to track health outcomes.
The review included genetic markers associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Those identified with a high genetic risk score were 2.4 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than individuals with a low genetic risk score.
The results underscore the benefits of exercise for diabetes and its ability to lower risk. Just an hour of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily was associated with a 74 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who did less than 5 minutes of physical activity,
The importance of activity was revealed in yet another compelling finding. Participants with a high genetic risk but in the most physically active category actually had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes when compared with those with a low genetic risk but in the least active category.
The research team acknowledged the activity has always been associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes and even helping to battle the disease once it takes hold. However, the Australian team claims this is the first study to identify the association that isn’t based on self-reported data.
“We are unable to control our genetic risk and family history, but this finding provides promising and positive news that through an active lifestyle, one can ‘fight off’ much of the excessive risk for type 2 diabetes,” said Melody Ding, an associate professor and the study’s leader.
Ding notes that moderate-intensity physical activity describes movements that make people sweat and become slightly out of breath, such as brisk walking and general gardening.
Vigorous-intensity physical activity includes running, aerobic dancing, cycling uphill or at a fast pace and heavy gardening such as digging—all activities that generate heavy breathing