July 28, 2008 / 8:58 PM / in 10 years

Studies show exercise boon for obesity, diabetes

LONDON (Reuters) - Walking a bit more each day can help people control their Type 2 diabetes but obese people trying to keep weight off may need to exercise harder than they had thought, according to a studies published on Monday.

A jogger runs along the Hudson River in Hoboken, New Jersey in this file photo from August 3, 2006. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

Simply walking 45 minutes more each day helped people with diabetes use blood sugar better, Michael Trenell of Britain’s Newcastle University and colleagues wrote in the journal Diabetes Care.

“People often find the thought of going to the gym quite daunting, but what we’ve found is that nearly everyone with diabetes is able to become more active through walking,” Trenell said.

The Newcastle team paired 10 Type 2 diabetes patients with people without the condition of similar height, weight and age and asked everybody to walk more than 10,000 steps each day.

Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI scans showed that people who walked 45 minutes more each day burned about 20 percent more fat — increasing the ability of the muscles to store sugar and help control diabetes, the researchers said.

“What is exciting about this study is that it provides an immediate way to help control diabetes without any additional drugs,” Trenell said.

Diabetes affects an estimated 246 million adults worldwide and accounts for 6 percent of all global deaths. Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90 percent of all diabetes cases and is closely linked to obesity and physical inactivity.

Obesity and diabetes both are growing problems as more developing nations adopt a Western lifestyle, something the International Diabetes Federation estimates will propel the number of people with diabetes to 380 million by 2025.

But current exercise guidelines calling for people to get 150 minutes — 2.5 hours — each week may not be enough to help the obese keep weight off, John Jakicic of the University of Pittsburgh and colleagues wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

To determine an optimal amount of exercise, the U.S. team enrolled 201 overweight and obese women in a weight loss programme between 1999 and 2003 and assigned them to one of four exercise groups.

After six months, women in all four groups had lost an average of 8 to 10 percent of their weight but many gained it back.

Women assigned to exercise for about an extra hour each day did not gain the weight back, the researchers said. These women were also more likely to stick to healthy diets.

Jakicic recommended that people who want to lose weight and keep it off get at least 4-1/2 hours of exercise a week.

“There is a growing consensus that more exercise may be necessary to enhance long-term weight loss,” Jakicic and colleagues wrote.

Reporting by Michael Kahn; Editing by Maggie Fox

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