Even moderate fitness can reduce the risk of death among men with type 2 diabetes, suggests a new study.
The study led by Roshney Jacob-Issac has shown that for men with type 2 diabetes, even being moderately fit can lower the risk of dying of any cause by 40 to 50 percent, even if they were overweight or obese.
"Death rates were the highest for those who were low fit in all weight categories," Dr Jacob-Issac, an endocrinology fellow at George Washington University Hospital and the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
The team studied 2,690 male diabetic veterans from the Washington, D.C., and Palo Alto, Calif., VA hospitals.
Of these patients, 406 were a healthy weight, 1,088 were overweight and 1,196 were obese, as shown by their body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measure of body fat using height and weight.
All subjects were asked to do a standard exercise tolerance test on a treadmill to determine their exercise capacity. Using a measure of the subject's peak metabolic rate achieved while exercising, the researchers categorized fitness level as low, moderate, and high.
They found that the higher the level of fitness, the lower the risk of dying during the average seven-year follow-up period.
Moderate fitness, compared with low fitness, reduced the death risk by 40 percent in healthy-weight and overweight men, and by 52 percent in obese individuals.
High fitness level further increased this benefit in both healthy-weight and overweight subjects, to 60 and 65 percent, respectively. The difference in death risk could not be explained by age, risk factors for heart and vascular disease, or medications, the authors reported.
"Diabetics should improve their fitness level or exercise capacity to at least a moderate level, by being physically active. Weight loss is great, but being active is just as important," she said.
The study was presented at The Endocrine Society's 90th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.