Being active as crucial as managing blood sugar: York U diabetes study


TORONTO, Feb. 15, 2012 – If you’re diabetic, getting off the couch may be as crucial as glycemic control, according to a new study by York University researchers.

The study, published today in the journal Diabetologia, reports that moderate physical activity improves longevity for patients coping with diabetes, even if they do not improve their blood sugar.

“Our results indicate that a physically active lifestyle may be just as important as glycemic control in terms of decreasing mortality risk. In other words, just managing your blood sugar isn’t the only factor if you want to live a longer and healthier life,” says Jacinta Reddigan, who authored the study while a graduate student in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 10,000 adults who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) Public Access Mortality Linkage. Their levels of physical activity were assessed by questionnaire and compared with mortality rates that detail the risk of premature death from both generalized causes and cardiovascular disease.

York kinesiology professor Jennifer Kuk notes that the level of physical activity required for protective benefits is very modest.

“In this study, ‘physically active’ was defined as doing any moderate or vigorous intensity physical activity even once per week,” says Kuk, a co-author on the study. “This could include walking, jogging, biking and dancing, for example.”

Reddigan says many health professionals tend to focus solely on glycemic control. “It’s crucial that health professionals highlight the importance of physical activity to their patients – especially to those with poor levels of glycemic control,” she says.

The study, “The joint association of physical activity and glycaemic control in predicting cardiovascular death and all-cause mortality in the US population,” was co-authored by Kuk and Michael Riddell, associate professor in York’s Department of Kinesiology & Health Science. The research was supported by funding from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.

York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto – Canada’s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 55,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 240,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 10 faculties and 28 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.


Media Contact:
Melissa Hughes, Media Relations, York University, 416-736-2100 ext. 22097,