20 minutes a day keeps the doctor away

Last week I told you about a study that showed how beneficial regular exercise is for menopausal women. But study after study shows exercise is key when it comes to preventing a breathtaking range of chronic illnesses in both sexes.

In fact, according to another new study, middle-aged people who were physically active had much lower risk of diabetes than their sedentary peers.

Researchers found physically active men and women had lower HbA1c levels than less-active patients. HbA1c measures how well-controlled your blood sugar has been for the past six weeks. An HbA1C under 5 is healthy. A result between 5 and 6 indicates prediabetes. And anything above 6 is considered diabetes.

But as I’ve said before, an elevated HbA1c level doesn’t mean diabetes is inevitable. In fact, according to the Diabetes Prevention Program decreasing HbA1c levels with lifestyle changes can result in a 58-percent reduction in the incidence of diabetes in just one year. No harmful drugs required.

By the way, this wasn’t a small-scale study on a handful of patients. It was a large, cross-sectional trial in which researchers analyzed electronic records from over 622,000 adults.

And it shows just how big of a difference exercise can make to your health. Even more striking? It doesn’t take hours upon hours sweating on a treadmill to get these life-changing benefits. The subjects in this study reported exercising for 150 minutes per week. That’s just 2.5 hours.

Two and a half hours of exercise a week is not much at all, folks. We’re not talking about triathlons here. Just 20 minutes of brisk walking, every day. That is easily attainable for almost anyone.

So, your action plan is to get moving, starting today. Even a walk around the block is a fine start. And it could make all the difference when it comes to keeping diabetes at bay.


“Associations Between Physical Activity and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors Assessed in a Southern California Health Care System, 2010-12.” Preventing Chronic Disease. 2014; 11: 140196