BACKGROUND - Leisure-time physical activity (LPA) has been associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. However, the potential effect of other types of physical activity on type 2 diabetes is still uncertain. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of occupational, commuting, daily living, and LPA on the incidence of type 2 diabetes in a cohort of middle-aged women.
METHODS - We prospectively followed 70,658 women who had no prior history of diabetes at study recruitment for 4.6 years. Participants completed in-person interviews at baseline that collected information on diabetes risk factors including physical activity habits. Anthropometric measurements were taken by trained interviewers. Multivariate-adjusted hazard ratios were estimated by levels of occupational, commuting, daily living, and LPA.
RESULTS - We documented 1973 incident cases of diabetes during 326,625 person-years of follow-up. LPA and daily living physical activity (DPA) were associated with a moderately reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. The relative risk for type 2 diabetes associated with LPA and DPA categories were 1.00, 0.89, 1.05, and 0.83, (P trend = 0.12) and 1.00, 0.98, 0.95, and 0.88, (P trend = 0.06) respectively. LPA was associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes in employed participants (P trend = 0.09) while DPA was mainly associated with a reduction in risk in non-employed participants (P trend <0.01). While occupational physical activity was not associated with type 2 diabetes risk in this population, commuting to work was associated with a reduction in risk. A combination of DPA and LPA was associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
CONCLUSIONS - This study suggests that physical activity, either from leisure-time exercise or daily activity reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes in women, supporting the current health promotion efforts encouraging both exercise and non-exercise activity levels.