Updated 19 November 2013

Endurance sport may protect against diabetes

A study finds that being an elite athlete, especially in an endurance sport, may help protect men against type 2 diabetes later in life.

Being an elite athlete, especially in an endurance sport, may help protect men against type 2 diabetes later in life, a small new study finds.

Researchers looked at 392 Finnish men who were former elite athletes and a comparison group of 207 men who hadn't been athletes. Overall, being a former elite athlete reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 28%.

The amount of risk reduction varied, depending on the type of sport. It was 61% lower for endurance sports. A less significant trend for reduced risk was seen in power sports (23% lower) and for mixed sports (21% lower).

The study was published in the journal Diabetologia.

The former elite athletes also had a 42% lower risk of having prediabetes, according to a journal news release.

"With ageing, the former athletes maintained their physically active lifestyle better than the controls," wrote Dr Merja Laine, at the University of Helsinki, and colleagues.

Although the study found a reduced risk of developing diabetes among elite athletes, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion outlines steps to prevent type 2 diabetes


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Diabetes expert

Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules