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25-08-2010 | Diabetes | Article

Leisure-time physical activity protects against Type 2 diabetes long term


Free abstract

MedWire News: Regular, moderate-to-high levels of leisure-time physical activity have a significant protective effect against Type 2 diabetes in the long term, show study results.

In 1975, Katja Waller (University of Jyväskylä, Finland) and colleagues collected information on leisure-time physical activity from 20,487 individuals (including 8182 same-sex twin pairs) born before 1958. The participants were then followed-up for 28 years for incident Type 2 diabetes.

The cohort was divided into quintiles of baseline leisure-time physical activity measured by metabolic equivalent (MET) index (MET hours/day), a combined value taking into account strenuousness, duration, and frequency. These were less than 0.59 (I), 0.59-1.29 (II), 1.30-2.49 (III), 2.50-4.49 (IV), and more than 4.50 (V) MET hours/day.

As reported in the journal Diabetologia, 1082 individuals taking part in the study developed Type 2 diabetes over the follow-up period. Overall, those in quintiles III-V had a significantly reduced risk for developing Type 2 diabetes compared with those in quintile I.

When the analysis was restricted to twin pairs, the team found that in comparison to quintile I, which was considered to be sedentary, those in quintiles II, III, IV, and V had a significant 39%, 41%, 39%, and 39% reduction in relative risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, respectively.

These findings remained valid after adjusting for body mass index. Twins in quintiles II-V with an inactive (quintile I) twin were 46% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than their twin.

"Our longitudinal twin pair study established that leisure-time physical activity protects from Type 2 diabetes after taking genetic effects into account," conclude the authors.

"On the basis of our co-twin-control design even small amounts of physical activity compared with sedentariness play a significant role in reducing or postponing the occurrence of Type 2 diabetes."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert