BILTHOVEN, THE NETHERLANDS. There is considerable evidence that regular, vigorous exercise can help prevent type 2 diabetes. Now Dutch researchers report that activities like gardening and bicycling, when done on a regular basis, can help prevent glucose intolerance, the precursor of diabetes. Their study involved 424 men between the ages of 69 and 89 years who were known to be non-diabetic. Glucose intolerance was diagnosed if the fasting glucose reading was greater than 7 mmol/L (126 mg/dL) or the 2- hour post-load concentration was greater than 7.8 mmol/L (140 mg/dL).
The researchers found that men who engaged in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity
every day had a 3 times lower incidence of impaired glucose tolerance than did more sedentary men. This
correlation held true even after adjusting for smoking, a family history of diabetes, alcohol intake, body mass
index, and dietary factors. Men who had reduced their physical activity level during the 5 years prior to the
glucose test had a greater risk of being glucose intolerant than did men who had maintained their level.
Bicycling and gardening were the most popular activities among the men. The researchers found no
correlation between daily walking and a reduced risk of glucose intolerance, but caution that this could be
because relatively few men walked regularly or because their walks were not brisk enough.