NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People with type 2 diabetes may lower their risk of heart disease by committing to a daily walk, new research suggests.
In a study of 102 adults with type 2 diabetes, Japanese researchers found that those who stuck with a daily walking regimen for 17 months had a lower risk of developing heart disease or suffering a stroke than those who stopped exercising.
The study participants, who ranged in age from 35 to 75, were instructed to take a 20- to 30-minute walk every day. Among the 64 who managed to achieve this, just 1 - or 2 percent -- suffered a stroke and none developed heart disease during the 17-month study.
In contrast, of the 38 participants who failed to stick with their exercise prescription, 7 -- or 18 percent -- developed heart disease or had a stroke.
The findings show that even simple at-home exercise may cut the cardiovascular risks associated with type 2 diabetes, according to Dr. Sato Shinji and colleagues at Saitama Medical University.
“The markedly lower risk of cardiovascular disease among program completers than dropouts in the current study provides evidence that patients with diabetes may benefit from a regular exercise program,” the researchers report in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.
Heart disease and stroke are among the long-term complications of type 2 diabetes, a disorder in which the body no longer responds properly to the blood-sugar-regulating hormone insulin. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and heart over time.
Better blood sugar control, the researchers note, may help explain why regular exercisers in this study had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
SOURCE: International Journal of Sports Medicine, October 2007.