Jan. 15 (UPI) -- People with type 2 diabetes should stay active to maintain good health, decrease mortality and increase overall health, a new study says.
Doctors should prescribe regular exercise to patients with type 2 diabetes to help moderate blood sugar and enhance heart health, new research published Tuesday in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology says.
"Sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets are the most important drivers of the increasing number of patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks," Hareld Kemps, a cardiologist at Máxima Medical Center in the Netherlands, said in a news release. "Diabetes doubles the risk of mortality but the fitter patients become, the more that risk declines. Unfortunately, the majority of patients do not engage in exercise programs."
According to the study, one in 11 adults globally have diabetes, and 90 percent of those people have type 2 diabetes. Most patients with type 2 diabetes go on to have cardiovascular complications, which is the leading cause of death for diabetes patients.
Researchers say, however, that those trends can be reversed with exercise and diet. Now, patients can carry out an exercise plan remotely using smartwatches and digitally pass along data to doctors for feedback.
The study suggests that patients should push to reach two clinical targets: cardiorespiratory fitness and glycemic control. Exercise helps improve morbidity and mortality outcomes, along with lowering blood pressure and dangerous blood lipids, researchers reported.
"Just advising patients to exercise, which is what doctors typically do, is not enough," Kemps said. "Patients must be assessed for comorbidities, risks related to exercise, and personal preferences. This will be cost effective in the long run so we have to wake up policymakers and healthcare insurers to pay for it. That needs clinicians to take the lead and call for programs to be reimbursed."
Kemp cautions that every exercise regime isn't the same for every patient. Brisk walking or jogging might benefit some people with type 2 diabetes, but might be unsafe for people with ischemia or who develop abnormal heart rhythm during workouts.
"I can't stress enough how effective even small increases in activity can benefit patients with type 2 diabetes and heart problems. Interrupting sitting with brief bouts of walking improves glucose control, while two hours of brisk walking per week reduces the risk of further heart problems," Kemps said.