Objective: Physical activity is related to clinical outcomes, even after adjusting for body mass, but is rarely assessed in randomized clinical trials.
Research design and methods: We conducted an observational analysis of data from the Nateglinide and Valsartan in Impaired Glucose Tolerance Outcomes Research trial, in which a total of 9306 people from 40 countries with impaired glucose tolerance and either cardiovascular disease or cardiovascular risk factors were randomized to receive nateglinide or placebo, in a 2-by-2 factorial design with valsartan or placebo. All were asked to also participate in a detailed lifestyle modification programme and followed-up for a median of 6.4 years with progression to diabetes as a co-primary end point. Seven-day ambulatory activity was assessed at baseline using research-grade pedometers. We assessed whether the baseline amount of physical activity was related to subsequent development of diabetes in individuals with impaired glucose tolerance.
Results: Pedometer data were obtained on 7118 participants and 35.0% developed diabetes. In an unadjusted analysis each 2000-step increment in the average number of daily steps, up to 10 000, was associated with a 5.5% lower risk of progression to diabetes (HR 0.95, 95%CI 0.92 to 0.97), with >6% relative risk reduction after adjustment.
Conclusions: Physical activity should be measured objectively in pharmacologic trials as it is a significant but underappreciated contributor to diabetes outcomes. It should be a regular part of clinical practice as well.
Keywords: diabetes mellitus; exercise, physical activity; prediabetes.