Reduced total and cause-specific mortality from walking and running in diabetes

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014;46(5):933-9. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000197.


Purpose: This study aimed to assess the relationships of running and walking to mortality in diabetic subjects.

Methods: We studied the mortality surveillance between January 1, 1989 and December 31, 2008, of 2160 participants of the National Walkers' and Runners' Health Studies who reported using diabetic medications at baseline. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were obtained from Cox proportional hazard analyses for mortality versus exercise energy expenditure (MET-hours per day, 1 MET·h ∼1-km run or a 1.5-km brisk walk).

Results: Three hundred and thirty-one diabetic individuals died during a 9.8-yr average follow-up. Merely meeting the current exercise recommendations was not associated with lower all-cause mortality (P = 0.61), whereas exceeding the recommendations was associated with lower all-cause mortality (HR = 0.64, 95% CI = 0.49-0.82, P = 0.0005). Greater MET-hours per day ran or walked was associated with 40% lower risk for all chronic kidney disease-related deaths (HR = 0.60 per MET·h·d(-1), 95% CI = 0.35-0.91, P = 0.02), 31% lower risk for all sepsis-related deaths (HR = 0.69, 0.47-0.94, P = 0.01), and 31% lower risk for all pneumonia and influenza-related deaths (HR = 0.69, 95% CI = 0.45-0.97, P = 0.03). Running or walking ≥1.8 MET·h·d(-1) was associated with 57% reduction in cardiovascular disease (CVD) as an underlying cause of death and 46% lower risk for all CVD-related deaths versus <1.07 MET·h·d. All results remained significant: 1) adjusted for baseline BMI and 2) excluding all deaths within 3 yr of baseline.

Conclusions: These results suggest that 1) exercise is associated with significantly lower all-cause, CVD, chronic kidney disease, sepsis, and pneumonia, and influenza mortality in diabetic patients and 2) higher exercise standards may be warranted for diabetic patients than currently provided to the general population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cause of Death
  • Diabetes Complications / mortality*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / mortality
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia / mortality
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / mortality
  • Running*
  • Sepsis / mortality
  • Walking*