Physical Activity Can Mitigate Genetic Susceptibility to Type 2 Diabetes

An exciting study has demonstrated how physical activity may help lower type 2 diabetes risk even among individuals who carry an elevated genetic predisposition for it.

Researchers found that higher total physical activity levels, and particularly moderate-to-vigorous intensity activities, were strongly correlated with lower risks of type 2 diabetes.

The study findings demonstrate the significance of increasing physical activity levels as an effective strategy for combatting type 2 diabetes.

This research project involved 59,325 UK Biobank participants wearing activity trackers on their wrists at the outset of the study; their health was then followed for approximately seven years as part of this ongoing experiment.

The UK Biobank is an extensive, anonymized database and reference resource with information on over half a million individuals that includes genetic, health and lifestyle data.

Data revealed genetic markers associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Individuals who had a genetic risk score that was high had an estimated 2.4 times increased risk compared to individuals who had low genetic risk scores.

Study results demonstrated that participating in over an hour of daily moderate to vigorous physical activity was associated with a 74% lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared to individuals engaging in less than five minutes daily of physical activity.

Even after taking into account other factors – such as genetic risk – the result was still consistent.

Un astounding finding was that individuals with higher genetic risk in the most physically active group had lower risks of type 2 diabetes compared to individuals who were inactive, yet had low genetic risks in comparison with those from more physically active groups.

Family history and genetic risk cannot be altered directly, but evidence indicates that an active lifestyle may help decrease the excessive type 2 diabetes risk significantly.

Moderate intensity physical activity includes activities that cause you to sweat and leave you slightly breathless, such as gardening and walking at a moderate speed.

Vigorous physical activities that make you breathless include cycling uphill or at a fast pace, aerobic dancing, running and heavy gardening that involves digging – activities which will get your heart racing.

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