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Physical Activity by Women at High Risk of Diabetes

Women should get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week to help reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Chart: Women age 18 and over who were physically active at least 150 minutes/week, by diabetes risk status and family income, NHANES, 2003-2006. Poor: At high risk (26.0%); Not at high risk (43.6%). Near Poor: At high risk (24.6%); Not at high risk (27.5%). Middle income: At high risk (26.2%); Not at high risk (29.0%). High income: At high risk (21.9%); Not at high risk (29.9%).Staying physically active reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Yet women at high risk for the disease are less likely than other women to stay active enough to lower their risk, according to a recent federal report.

Just one out of four women at high risk for diabetes reported getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week, compared to one out of three women not in a high-risk group.

Getting regular physical activity is important to good health, including managing weight and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Adults should get at least 150 minutes each week of moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, light yard work or casual biking.

The Diabetes Prevention Program clinical trial, led by the National Institutes of Health and supported by CDC, has shown that getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity and losing 5% to 7% of body weight (10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person) can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% in people at high risk of the disease.

Who Is at High Risk for Developing Diabetes?

  • Women and men age 45 or older who are overweight or obese

Or

  • Women and men age 18-44 who are overweight or obese, and have any of the following:
    • Parent or brother or sister with type 2 diabetes
    • Less than 150 minutes of physical activity each week
    • Racial/ethnic background in a high-risk group (African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander)
    • History of gestational diabetes or a baby with birth weight greater than 9 pounds
    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • History of heart attack, stroke, or peripheral arterial disease

Are Women Taking Steps to Stay Healthy?

Chart: Women age 18 and over who were physically active at least 150 minutes/week, by diabetes risk status and education, NHANES, 2003-2006. Less than high school: At high risk (25.6%); Not at high risk (26.2%). High school: At high risk (26.7%); Not at high risk (28.8%). More than high school: At high risk (24.9%); Not at high risk (33.7%).Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality examined the quality of preventive health care that women receive. The report, Women at High Risk for Diabetes: Access and Quality of Health Care, 2003-2006, includes information on access to care, general health and well-being, and preventive care and behaviors, including physical activity.

Among the findings:

  • For women with more than a high school education, those at high risk for type 2 diabetes were significantly less likely to get enough physical activity than women not at high risk. Just 24.9% of the women at risk spent at least 150 minutes a week being physically active, compared to 33.7% of women not at risk.
  • Both poor women and high-income women at risk for type 2 diabetes were significantly less likely to get enough physical activity each week than women from the same economic groups who weren't at risk. Among poor women, physical activity levels were 26.0% for those at high risk; 43.6% for other women. Among high-income women, physical activity levels were 21.9% for those at high risk; 29.9% for other women.

Researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) on 4,098 women age 18 and older to prepare the report.

Data Source
Women at High Risk for Diabetes: Access and Quality of Health Care, 2003-2006. AHRQ Publication No. 11-0002, January 2011. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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