Physical Activity Levels in Atlantic Canadian Diabetes Patients
Yunsong Cui, Cindy Forbes, Scott Grandy, Ellen Sweeney, Michael Yu, & Melanie Keats
Over the past 36 years the number of adults living with diabetes worldwide has nearly quadrupled, rising from 4.7% (108 million) to 8.5% (422 million). In Canada, diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases afflicting 9.3% of the population in 2015. Similar to rising global rates, the proportion of Canadians living with diabetes is projected to reach 12.1% in 2025.
The potential complications associated with diabetes are extensive and include heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, leg amputation, nerve damage, and vision loss. In Canada, people with diabetes are more likely to be hospitalized than those without diabetes. For instance, people with diabetes are three times more likely to be hospitalized as a result of cardiovascular disease, 12 times more likely as a result of end-stage renal disease, and 20 times more likely as a result of non-traumatic lower limb amputation. Diabetes-related complications can also lead to premature death, with one in ten Canadian deaths attributed to diabetes.
The growing burden of diabetes reflects an increase in risk factors, such as being overweight or obese combined with a lack of physical activity. Engaging in regular physical activity has the potential to both prevent and manage diabetes. Physical activity improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin, can assist in managing blood glucose levels, increase cardiorespiratory fitness, reduce blood pressure, and assist with maintaining weight loss. Physical activity is also one of the strongest predictors of all-cause mortality in people with diabetes. The clinical practice guidelines of the Canadian Diabetes Association Expert Committee recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity, over a period of at least three days per week, with no more than two days without exercise. Recognizing the benefits associated with physical activity, using a population based sample from Atlantic Canada this report describes and compares the physical activity levels of individuals with a self-reported history of diabetes to those without a history of the disease.