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04-01-2012 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Physical activity key to improving cardiometabolic risk


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MedWire News: Increasing levels of physical activity is a key driver of the benefits of lifestyle intervention in patients at high risk for developing diabetes, a Finnish study suggests.

The authors say that high-risk individuals who increase their physical activity levels as part of a structured intervention in primary care have a greater improvement in cardiometabolic risk factors than those whose activity levels are unchanged.

The findings are reported by Urho Kujala (University of Jyväskylä) and colleagues, who prospectively studied 1871 people (n=1572 women) considered to be at high risk for diabetes, based on having a modified Finnish Diabetes Risk Score of 15 or higher.

All patients were entered into the FIN-D2D program, a national strategy aimed at preventing diabetes and improving cardiovascular risk profile. The program was delivered at 400 healthcare centers and occupational healthcare outpatient clinics and comprised regular check-ups and counseling about the importance of diet and physical activity.

At the 1-year follow-up, 310 participants (16.6%) said they had "clearly increased" their physical activity levels since entering the program, whereas 73.8% said they had been unable to do so.

Among participants who increased their activity levels, average bodyweight fell by 4.27 kg and average waist circumference fell by 4.3 cm.

This subgroup also displayed significant reductions in blood pressure (-3.24/-2.93 mmHg), total cholesterol (-0.32 mmol/L), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (-0.33 mmol/L), ratio of low- to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (-0.33), triglycerides (-0.12 mmol/L), fasting glucose (-0.11 mmol/L), and 2-hour glucose (-0.56 mmol/L).

By contrast, none of these measures changed significantly in participants who did not increase their activity levels.

Thus, the study shows that patients at high risk for diabetes who increase their levels of physical activity through participation in lifestyle intervention benefit from reductions in weight, central obesity, blood pressure, serum lipids, and plasma glucose, Kujala et al summarize.

"It is noteworthy that those who increased their physical activity had more intervention visits than those who did not increase," they remark. "Those who increased their physical activity also reported more changes in their diet."

Writing in the BMJ Open, the researchers conclude: "Increasing physical activity seems to be an important feature of cardiometabolic risk reduction among individuals at high risk for Type 2 diabetes participating in preventive interventions in routine clinical settings."

By Joanna Lyford

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