The current study is a 12-year follow-up of the subgroup of 1,793 participants who were part of a DPP ancillary study in which they were asked to wear an activity monitor for one week. The interviewer-administered Modifiable Activity Questionnaire was used to track physical activity (PA) yearly, and diabetes status was determined by annual oral glucose tolerance and semi-annual fasting plasma glucose tests.
The researchers found that in all three treatment groups, diabetes incidence was lower for participants who were more physically active, regardless of changes in weight.
“These current results show that physical activity, over an average of 12 years, decreased the chances of developing diabetes even after considering any changes in weight. This protective effect was greater in those who were less active at baseline. They also suggest that the lower development of diabetes across the entire study in those that took part in the lifestyle arm of the study may be partially explained by improvement in physical activity levels as well as weight loss,” said one of the lead investigators, Andrea M. Kriska, PhD, MS, Professor, Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
“Until now, the importance of physical activity in preventing diabetes development in the DPP was thought to be due to its role in achieving weight loss and weight maintenance; however, it was not considered a strong key factor alone,” Kriska continued. “It is important for health care professionals to look beyond their high-risk patients’ weight, and also consider their physical activity levels, when discussing strategies to prevent progression to type 2 diabetes.”