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PULI, Taiwan — Living with Type 2 diabetes can be a constant struggle. From watching insulin levels to proper dieting, patients are always on guard to keep the condition under control. A new study reveals the key for Type 2 diabetes patients to live longer may be regular exercise. Researchers is Taiwan find patients expending over 800 calories worth of energy each week can significantly lower their risk of death.

Dr. Yun-Ju Lai and a team at Taichung Veterans General Hospital say the all-cause mortality risk can drop between 25 and 32 percent depending on how much exercise a person with Type 2 diabetes is capable of. Researchers find exercising can improve insulin sensitivity, fights off the causes of heart disease, and holds back inflammatory cytokines.

Cytokines are signaling proteins that trigger inflammation. The immune system produces these proteins as part of the human body’s response to possible diseases. Unfortunately, when the body starts to excessively produce cytokines this leads to inflammatory diseases like diabetes.

Diabetes disrupts how the body converts food into energy. People with the disorder aren’t making enough insulin, leading to too much blood sugar in the bloodstream. The imbalance can eventually cause problems such as heart and kidney disease, especially if the condition is left unchecked.

Major benefits for Type 2 diabetes patients

Study authors look at nearly 4,900 Type 2 diabetes patients from Taiwan’s National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the National Health Insurance research database. Forty-nine percent of the survey are men and the average age of all participants was just under 60 years-old.

Looking at exercise habits, socioeconomic status, and overall health every four years from 2000 to 2016, the results show the more active a Type 2 diabetes patient is, the better chances are of living a longer life. Participants engaging in a moderate amount of exercise (under 800 kcal/weekly energy expenditure) can drop their mortality rate by 25 percent. Those expending over 800 kcal lower their risk of premature death by 32 percent.

“Among people with Type 2 diabetes, those with increased exercise capacity had a significantly decreased risk of all-cause mortality. Further studies should investigate the type and dose of exercise that is most helpful to promote health and prolong life expectancy,” study authors say in a release from this year’s Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

The findings appear in the journal Diabetologia.

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About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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