People with type 2 diabetes and heart disease could live longer by being more physically active.
People with long-term health conditions, including type 2 diabetes could increase their life expectancy by taking up exercise, according to a new study.
The study is believed to be the first of its kind to investigate the impact on the survival of people with two or more long-term health conditions, specifically type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD: stroke, myocardial infarction, heart failure, angina, or peripheral vascular disease) combined with depression.
A recently published report by researchers at the University of Leicester in The Journal of Internal Medicine said that exercise increases the life expectancy of people with multiple health conditions – although it does not have same benefit in those with depression.
People with multiple health conditions have a higher prevalence of depression, and although this link is well recognised, it is often overlooked as single diseases are given more priority.
The research team looked at UK Biobank figures from almost 500,000 participants recruited between 2006 and 2010.
Researchers found that study participants with the combination of diabetes, CVD and depression had the largest reduction of life expectancy, at 9.1 years shorter on average at the age of 45 years, and 7.7 years shorter at the age of 65 years, when compared to people with none of these health conditions.
However, the research team also found that physically active 45-year-olds who completed the recommended levels of 150 minutes moderate activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week, or a combination of both, was associated with 2.3 years of increased life expectancy compared to being inactive in participants with type 2 diabetes.
Or 2.3 years of increased life expectancy for CVD; 2.2 for type 2 diabetes and CVD; and 1.6 for no health condition.
However, increased physical activity and increased life expectancy was not measured to be significant in study participants with depression alone or depression combined with cardiometabolic conditions. A similar pattern was found at 65 years.
Researchers concluded: “Meeting the recommended level of physical activity was associated with a longer life expectancy in people with cardiometabolic multimorbidity but not in those with depression.”
Researcher Yogini Chudasama, a PhD Student in Epidemiology, said: “While changing lifestyle behaviours is not easy for those dealing with diabetes and CVD, moderate to vigorous intensity leisure-time physical activity could provide a safe opportunity to engage in enjoyable, sociable, and low-cost therapy, which may positively influence patients.
“For those dealing with depression, or depression combined with cardiometabolic multimorbidity, further research is required.”
The study was funded by NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East Midlands.
Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Director of ARC East Midlands and Professor of Primary Care, Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester and National ARC Lead for the Multimorbidity Theme, said: “Given the rising challenges of multimorbidity, our study has important implications for the public health and for the future research in people with both physical and mental health illnesses.”