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Walking 2˝ Hours A Week Prevents Diabetes

Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2007

Men who stay highly active with age may have a lower risk of developing diabetes than those who taper off their exercise levels, a study suggests. 
The study, of nearly 26,000 male runners, found that those who kept running at a level of roughly 5 or more miles per week were less likely to develop diabetes over the next decade.

Among 35- to 54-year-old men who were running fewer than 5 miles per week at the end of the study, the diabetes rate was roughly twice that of their peers who were running 5-plus miles.

Similar, though less significant, differences were also seen among older men, according to Dr. Paul T. Williams of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

It's known that exercise, along with a healthy diet, helps prevent or manage type 2 diabetes, a disorder closely associated with obesity. But it hasn't been clear whether people stand to gain more from vigorous workouts than from moderate exercise, like walking, according to Williams.

The current findings, he writes, suggest that "vigorous exercise significantly reduces diabetes incidence, due in part to the prevention of age-related weight gain."

The study included 25,988 male runners who were surveyed twice, an average of eight years apart. Williams found that the distance the men were running at the outset was unrelated to their risk of diabetes later on. In contrast, their running distance at the study's end did seem to matter.

This suggests that any benefits of long running distances are short-term, Williams explains.

Despite the findings, though, he also points out that exercise need not be grueling to be health-promoting. Other studies have shown that adults with "pre-diabetes" can cut their risk of full-blown diabetes by accumulating 2.5 hours of moderate activity each week -- primarily walking. 

Source: Diabetes In Control: Diabetes Care, November 2007.

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