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Physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness and the incidence of type 2 diabetes in a prospective study of men
  1. John C Sieverdes1,
  2. Xuemei Sui1,
  3. Duck-chul Lee1,
  4. Timothy S Church2,
  5. Amanda McClain1,
  6. Gregory A Hand1,
  7. Steven N Blair1,3
  1. 1Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  2. 2Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Xuemei Sui, University of South Carolina, 921 Assembly Street, Columbia, SC 29210, USA; msui{at}


Objective To assess the independent and joint associations between self-reported physical activity (PA) and objectively measured cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) from a maximal treadmill exercise test and the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus in a large cohort of men.

Methods Participants for the current analysis were 23 444 men aged 20–85 years free of cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer or diabetes at baseline. Incident diabetes were identified from mail-back surveys. Cox regression analysis was used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs), 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and diabetes incidence rates (per 10 000 man-years) according to exposure categories.

Results During an average of 18 years of follow-up, 589 incident cases of diabetes were identified. After adjusting for age, examination year, survey response pattern, body mass index, smoking, drinking, fasting glucose, chronic diseases and family history of CVD or diabetes, the walking/jogging/running (WJR) and sport/fitness groups had a 40% and 28% lower risk of developing diabetes compared with the sedentary men, respectively (both p < 0.05). For CRF, diabetes incidence rates were 31.9, 14.5 and 6.5 for low-, moderate- and high-fitness groups, respectively. After adjustment for the above covariables, moderate and high CRF had a 38% and 63% lower risk of developing diabetes compared with the low CRF group (p trend<0.0001).

Conclusion Our findings showed a lower risk of developing diabetes for men who participated in a WJR programme or sport/fitness activity, compared with those who were sedentary. Higher levels of fitness were associated with an inverse gradient of incident diabetes.

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  • Funding This research was supported by a grant from the National Swimming Pool Foundation and National Institutes of Health Grants AG06945 and HL62508. This work was also supported in part by an unrestricted research grant from The Coca-Cola Company.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the The Cooper Institute IRB.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Detail has been removed from these case descriptions to ensure anonymity. The editors and reviewers have seen the detailed information available and are satisfied that the information backs up the case the authors are making.

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