According to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism that used data from the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program, wearable fitness devices provide new insights into the link between physical activity and type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease, affecting 90% to 95% of people with diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the body is resistant to the action of insulin, meaning it cannot use insulin properly, so it cannot carry sugar into the cells. Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens and young adults are being diagnosed. “We investigated the relationship between physical activity and type 2 diabetes with an innovative approach using data from wearable devices linked to electronic health records in a real-world population,” said Andrew S. Perry, M.D., of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. “We found that people who spent more time in any type of physical activity had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Our data shows the importance of moving your body every day to lower your risk of diabetes.”
The researchers analyzed Fitbit data and type 2 diabetes rates from 5,677 participants included in the NIH’s All of Us Research Program between 2010-2021. All of Us is part of an effort to advance individualized health care by enrolling one million or more participants to contribute their health data over many years. About 75% of the participants that the researchers studied were female.
They found 97 new cases of diabetes over a follow-up of 4 years in the data set. People with an average daily step count of 10,700 were 44% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with 6,000 steps.
“We hope to study more diverse populations in future studies to confirm the generalizability of these findings,” Perry said.