When we think of risk factors for type 2 diabetes, we think of things going on inside our bodies; our genes, what we eat and drink (or smoke), and how we otherwise take care of ourselves and our bodies. However, a recent study suggests that poor air quality where we live may increase the risk of developing the condition.
A team of University of California researchers just published a study in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal in which they found a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes in older individuals who live — and exercise outdoors — in areas with poor air quality.
The researchers looked at Mexican Americans aged 60 and older living in six Northern California counties, but they said that their findings apply to anyone living where there are high levels of air pollution.
The researchers regularly surveyed the study participants and tracked pollution, air quality, and traffic levels in their neighborhoods until 2007. During that period, they found 186 newly developed cases of diabetes among the roughly 1,800 individuals they surveyed.
Those who developed diabetes were more likely to exercise outdoors and lived in areas that had higher exposure to smog. Outdoor activities included gardening and yard work, dancing, walking, swimming, hunting, boating, camping, and outdoor sports. The study found that those who exercised outdoors in polluted areas were 1.5 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
While exercise is an important and effective way to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the researchers said that individuals living in areas with elevated pollution levels need to take into consideration the risks associated with exercising in such conditions when developing their fitness regimen.
As study co-author Dr. Beate Ritz, a professor of epidemiology and environmental health sciences at UCLA, wrote, “Physical activity is well-known and widely recognized for its health benefits, but the beneficial effects that outdoor physical activities have on human health may have to be weighed against the detrimental impacts of air pollution in areas affected by high pollution levels.”
If you live in a community that regularly experiences high levels of air pollution, you may want to consider exercising indoors more frequently. But, as noted, exercise can play a critical role in maintaining your health if you already live with diabetes. In addition to exercise and a balanced, nutritious diet, vigilant and regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is an indispensable aspect of staying healthy for individuals with diabetes.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) is a tested, approved, accurate, and easy-to-use transceiver device that helps those with diabetes monitor keep abreast of their blood sugar levels 24/7 without any need to stop what their doing to take a blood sample.
If you recently received a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, speak with your doctor and contact us today to see if you qualify for CGM and access our guide to continuous glucose monitoring.