March 31 (UPI) — People with Type 2 diabetes and higher levels of body fat may have reduced exercise capacity, according to an analysis published Wednesday by the journal PLOS ONE.
Percentage of body fat was a significantly more important predictor of exercise capacity — heart and lung endurance and overall physical fitness — than other measurements, the data showed.
The condition also had more of an impact on exercise capacity than more traditional barometers, including blood pressure, weight, cholesterol levels and HbA1C, or blood sugar, the researchers said.
“Body composition and fat distribution have vital implications concerning physical fitness in diabetes,” study co-author Dr. Prasanna Santhanam told UPI in an email.
“Increasing muscle mass and reducing body fat may increase physical fitness in diabetes, although more long term studies are needed in this regard,” said Santhanam, an assistant professor of endocrinology, metabolism and diabetes at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
An estimated 30 million people in the United States have Type 2 diabetes, which places them at increased risk for heart disease and other health complications, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Exercise is considered crucial for people with the disease to minimize their risk for these serious health problems, Santhanam and his colleagues said.
For this study, the researchers analyzed data on more than 1,300 adults in the United States with Type 2 diabetes.
All study participants were assessed based on several metrics, including blood sugar, heart rate, blood pressure, total cholesterol, weight, waist circumference and muscle mass, the researchers said.
Most of the participants had blood sugar levels within the recommended target range of 7% to 8%.
Average blood pressure readings for the participants were slightly elevated, as were total cholesterol levels.
Men with Type 2 diabetes in the study had an average body fat percentage of about 35%, while women had average of 45%.
Body fat percentages in the range of 18% to 25% for men and 25% to 31% for women are considered acceptable, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those with higher levels of body fat were found to have reduced exercise capacity, the researchers said.
“I would urge people [with Type 2 diabetes] to exercise regularly to improve their overall cardiac health,” Santhanam said.