Low-intensity physical exercise at least once a week is enough to significantly reduce the risk for Type 2 diabetes in people aged 70 years or older, report researchers.
However, in those aged 50–69 years, only vigorous/moderate-intensity exercise at least once a week lowered the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
Panayotes Demakakos (University College London, UK) and colleagues analyzed data from 7466 participants in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging who were aged 50 years or older without known diabetes at baseline.
The participants reported the amount of exercise they regularly participated in and were categorized as physically inactive, or participating in low- or vigorous/moderate-intensity exercise at least once a week. They were followed up for a mean of 45.3 months for incident Type 2 diabetes.
As reported in the journal Diabetologia,
However, when the participants were stratified by age, those aged 70 years or older who participated in low-intensity exercise once a week or more had a significant 47% reduction in risk for Type 2 diabetes compared with participants in the same age group who were physically inactive.
Notably, this was not the case in younger participants (50–69 years), in whom physical activity level needed to be of vigorous–moderate intensity to result in a reduced risk for Type 2 diabetes.
“According to these results, physical activity recommendations for adults aged 70 years and over should encourage participation in any physical activity,” conclude the authors.