Leisure-Time Running Reduces the Risk of Incident Type 2 Diabetes

Am J Med. 2019 Oct;132(10):1225-1232. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2019.04.035. Epub 2019 May 17.


Objectives: We examined the overall association as well as the dose-response relationship between leisure-time running and incident type 2 diabetes.

Methods: Participants were 19,347 adults aged 18-100 years who were free of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes at baseline, and who received at least 2 extensive preventive medical examinations between 1974 and 2006. Running and other types of aerobic physical activity were assessed by self-reported leisure-time activities. Type 2 diabetes was defined as fasting glucose ≥126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L), physician diagnosis, or insulin use.

Results: During an average follow-up of 6.5 years, 1015 adults developed type 2 diabetes. Approximately 29.5% of adults participated in leisure-time running at baseline. Runners had a 28% (hazard ratio [HR] 0.72; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.62-0.84) lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with nonrunners during follow-up. The HRs (95% CIs) of type 2 diabetes were 0.98 (0.75-1.28), 0.69 (0.51-0.92), 0.62 (0.45-0.85), 0.78 (0.59-1.04), and 0.57 (0.42-0.79) across quintiles of running time (minutes/week) compared with nonrunners after adjusting for potential confounders, including levels of nonrunning aerobic physical activity. Similar dose-response relationships between running distance (miles/week), frequency (times/week), total amount (MET-minutes/week), and speed (mph) were also observed.

Conclusions: Participating in leisure-time running is associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adults. Consistent linear dose-response relationships were observed between various running parameters and incident type 2 diabetes, supporting the prescription of running to prevent type 2 diabetes.

Keywords: Aerobic exercise; Cohort; Running; Type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Assessment / standards*
  • Risk Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Running / physiology*
  • Running / statistics & numerical data