Regular Physical Activity Linked to Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Even for Those with Genetic Predisposition
A recent study conducted by the University of Sydney has shown that engaging in regular physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity is linked to a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes (T2D), even among individuals who have a genetic predisposition towards the metabolic disorder. The study, which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, aimed to study the dose-response association between device-measured physical activity and T2D, and further map the interaction between genetic risk and physical activity on T2D.
– Those engaging in more than one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity in a day had a lower chance of getting T2D even if they had a genetic predisposition.
– The most active group had a 68% lower risk of developing T2D.
– The World Health Organization recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day for the prevention of T2D.
According to V. Mohan, chairman of Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, exercise has a significant effect, particularly among those who have a genetic predisposition to getting diabetes. He recommends weight loss through calorie restrictions and physical exercise routinely for patients. Over the years, the definition of ‘ideal exercise’ has been mutating, and today the recommendation is to even exercise for 15 minutes three times a day. Walking after dinner is also recommended as it has a profound effect on blood sugar management.
Lifestyle medicine specialist Lakshmi Sundar believes that lifestyle has a definite and decisive role to play in the prevention and management of metabolic disorders. She is an example of how someone who had very little association with sports or even physical activity can take up and enjoy rigorous activity, even if they start later in life. Her tale is truly inspirational as a congenital cardiac anomaly put paid to any aspirations of physical activity in childhood, but today she’s a regular runner and lifts heavy in the gym.
R. Manoj, a corporate executive in Chennai, hit 50 and realized that he needed to make a change. Working impossibly long hours at the office across time zones, obesity, compounded with a diet that was least healthy, awry meal times, and lack of adequate sleep, hustled him towards diabetes and hypertension. His diabetologist suggested he start by losing weight, working with a combination of diet and vigorous exercise. Shedding 25 kilos over a period of several months was not the easiest thing he did, but it was probably the best thing he did for himself. In his latest review, the blood work is near perfect. The blood sugar count is within acceptable limits, and blood pressure readings are consistently good.
Dr. Lakshmi says that a good diet and exercise are twin mantras. Calorie reduction has to stop at some point of time. One can’t keep reducing calories consumed non-stop. The trick is to balance that with exercise. What she recommends is walking or running 3/4 days a week and 2-3 days of strength training. The latter helps build muscle, which helps the muscle utilize the stored blood glucose better, leading to lower blood glucose. Exercise also helps women who are menopausal to manage weight gain, hot flushes, and mood swings.
Shashank Joshi, endocrinologist and president, Indian Academy of Diabetes, believes that India should have its own physical activities guidance as they are sarcopenic, meaning less muscle mass or thin fat. Their guidance includes 60 minutes of daily physical activity with all three – aerobic, muscle strengthening resistance exercise, and NEAT (non-exercise activity) thermogenesis. This means they have to move more and be more ‘fidgety’. Traditional yogic practices, including practices like surya namaskar, did incorporate some of this. However, there is a need to generate proper evidence, through randomized control trials, in this area.
In conclusion, exercise has great benefits for human health, and regular physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity is linked to a lower risk of T2D, even among individuals who have a genetic predisposition towards the metabolic disorder. A good diet and exercise are twin mantras, and it is recommended to balance calorie reduction with exercise. India should have its own physical activities guidance, and there is a need to generate proper evidence in this area.