Recreational Running May Lower The Development Of Type 2 Diabetes


The majority of the general population is aware that regular exercise and eating a well-rounded diet will help prevent and reduce the risks for many cardiovascular diseases, obesity, cancer, respiratory diseases, and metabolic diseases. Obesity is increasing at an alarming rate and Type 2 Diabetes has been associated with being overweight and obese. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help combat this disease and can lower the risks of getting the disease.

‍Most people think that they need to spend hours in the gym and on the treadmill to make an impact on the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes. Spending hours doing cardio isn't necessarily true.

A study that was conducted in the last few years has suggested that leisurely running could help reduce the risks of this metabolic disease. What is an important factor that people need to be aware of in this study is that not as much time doing cardio is required as they think.‍

The study was reported in The American Journal of Medicine and was published in 2019. The study had over 19,000 participants and followed these men and women for an average of 6.5 years. The number of people that were followed and the length of time that these individuals were followed was quite substantial. 

‍What they found was that these individuals had a 28% lower risk for developing the disease. The lower risk factors were related to a few aspects. One aspect was that they were running leisurely every week. What was meant by leisurely was that their weekly distances were equal to or greater than 6 miles a week for a frequency of equal to or greater than 3 times per week. 

The most important aspect that was found in this study was that those who ran 51-80 minutes per week had a significant preventive effect as opposed to the 75 minutes of a cardio per week guideline suggested in many physical activity guidelines.

‍Let me give you a simplified explanation for how much you need to run a week to get these benefits.‍The term leisurely running means a slower pace, less distance, and less running time.  This is not a pace and distance that you need to maintain as if you were training for a distance event. 

‍The weekly distances indicated in the study were equal to or greater than 6 miles per week. Don't let the 6 miles per week scare you. You can easily achieve 6 miles per week by running 2 miles per week three times per week or running 3 miles twice a week or running 2 miles twice a week and 1 mile twice a week. Just as long as the distance per week equates to 6 miles per week, you will get the benefits.

If you are unaccustomed to running longer distances, start with jogging for a mile or two twice a week and walk the rest.  You can build up your frequency over several weeks to achieve 6 miles per week.

‍If you look at the total time that it takes you to do this running activity, you will be achieving the 51- 80 minutes of running per week quite easily. Keep in mind that you should be running at a leisurely pace which is a much slower pace than someone would be hitting for a distance event. A jogging pace will suffice.  

Everyone will have a different pace that is considered leisurely for them. I suggest using a few methods to help you with determining the right pace, intensity, and what qualifies as a leisurely pace. Using a combination of these methods can help you get the beneficial effects and help reduce your risks of getting Type 2 Diabetes.

‍I suggest to many of my clients to grade their activity by rating their cardiovascular activity on how hard they perceive they are working by using the RPE scale (Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale). They should strive to maintain a moderate RPE level, as indicated in the table below, for the recommended distance.

If they can not maintain an RPE of 4-6, do a run-walk pattern. That could mean run for a minute and walk for 3 - 4 minutes.  Then run for another minute and walk 3 - 4 minutes then repeat.  If you do this regularly, your fitness and musculoskeletal system will get stronger and you can increase the time that you are running. Make sense?

Many medications such as beta-blockers can impact your heart rate and RPE. To add an additional measure to ensure that you are achieving the most beneficial level of intensity and safety is to monitor your heart rate.

I work with many clients through my Personal Training programs who take medications that affect their heart rate and have many disease risk factors. I have them use the MyZone heart rate monitors as part of the cardio programs that I prescribe. I can prescribe more efficient, safe, and progressive cardio programs by monitoring their cardiovascular activity. ‍‍

The point of this blog is to help shed some light on the fact that you don’t have to do endless hours of cardio to gain the health benefits especially when it comes to Type 2 Diabetes.  Diet and weight management are big factors in managing this disease.  The other factor to keep in mind is that if you can not run due to orthopedic concerns, finding other methods of cardio can help.  And if you can’t start hitting the correct running pace and distances, you can work up to them over weeks.  The video below can help explain this a little better.  

To learn more information about the Health Habits Roadmap programs, fill out the Contact Form. You can expect to hear from us within two business days. 

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