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