Diabetics who don't exercise have 70 percent higher risk for cardiovascular death

A study reported yesterday, on World Diabetes Day, drives home the point that diabetes can't be managed effectively without exercise.

The research, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, found that diabetics who engage in low levels of physical activity have about a 70 percent greater risk for cardiovascular death than those who exercise regularly.

Other studies have shown that diabetics are about five times more likely to develop heart disease or stroke than their peers, suggesting that regular physical activity for diabetics isn't just a nice goal to aim for, but a necessary component to avoiding early death.

The study

The new study defined low-level activity as exercising zero to two times per week for 30 minutes. High-level activity was defined as exercising three or more times per week.

Researchers studied 15,462 subjects from the Swedish National Diabetes Register with a mean age of 60. The subjects were followed for five years, or until a first cardiovascular event or death.

Participants who were defined as low-level activity subjects had a 70 to 110 percent higher risk for cardiovascular disease and mortality than other subjects.

'Do more'

The research team commented that simply stepping up the duration and frequency of exercise after a type 2 diabetes diagnosis can help lower risk of cardiovascular complications – and early death.

"The message from this study is clear," said study author Dr. Björn Zethelius, from the University of Uppsala in Sweden. "Avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Engage in physical activity. Alongside diet, these are the cornerstone of type 2 diabetes treatment. If you are presently on a low level of physical activity, do more."

Source: European Society of Cardiology

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