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Activities that can cut diabetes risk by three-quarters

Dr Amir lists diabetes symptoms

The finer things in life can actually help you dodge diabetes even if you are genetically vulnerable to it… but not if your only pleasures are wine and rich food.

Favourite hobbies like gardening, dancing and regular bracing walks were found to drive down the chance of developing the disease by three-quarters.

People who managed more than an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise a day were at a huge advantage over their less active peers, a study showed.

Professor Melody Ding, of Sydney University, who led the research said: “We are unable to control our genetic risk and family history.

“But this provides promising, positive news that through an active lifestyle, one can fight off much of the excessive risk for Type 2 diabetes.”

The Australian team tracked 59,325 adults from the UK Biobank – a database holding detailed information about the genes and health of around half a million of us.

Participants wore accelerometers on their wrist at the start and were then followed for up to seven years.

It is the first study to show that genetic risk of Type 2 diabetes, linked to unhealthy lifestyles, can be counteracted by exercise.

Moderate-intensity physical activity describes movements that get you sweating and slightly out of breath, such as brisk walking and general ­gardening, said Prof Ding.

Examples of vigorous physical activity include running, aerobic dancing, cycling uphill or at a fast pace and heavy gardening such as digging.

The obesity crisis has turned diabetes into one of the world’s top 10 killers. It affects five million people in the UK – 90 percent of whom have the Type 2 form.

Prof Ding’s father was recently diagnosed in his 60s. She said: “My dad’s side of the family has a history of Type 2 diabetes. So the result of the study is extremely heartening for my family and myself. As an already active person, I now have extra motivation to keep this active lifestyle.

“Our hope is this study will inform public health and clinical guidelines to help chronic disease ­prevention.”

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The researchers say the work, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, demonstrates higher levels of activity should be promoted as a major strategy for prevention. Diabetes blights the lives of around 537 million adults worldwide.

The study also found people with a high genetic risk score were 2.4 times more likely to develop it without any intervention – like exercise.

Co-author Susan Luo said: “I’m so delighted to share our research results with a broad audience to let people know that physical activity is health-enhancing. If you have a family history of Type 2 diabetes – or even if you don’t – today is the day to start being physically active.”

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