(HealthDay News) — Higher cardio-respiratory fitness is associated with a lower risk of incident diabetes, regardless of demographic characteristics, according to a study published online March 12 in Diabetes Care.

Stephen P. Juraschek, MD, PhD, from the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the association between fitness and incident diabetes in 46,979 patients (mean age, 53 years; 48% women; 27% black) participating in the Henry Ford Exercise Testing Project without diabetes at baseline. A treadmill stress test was used to measure fitness.

The researchers found that over a median follow-up period of 5.2 years there were 6,851 new diabetes cases (14.6%). After adjustment, patients achieving at least 12 metabolic equivalents (METs) had a 54% lower risk of incident diabetes compared with patients achieving fewer than six METs (hazard ratio, 0.46). Mean METs achieved was 9.5. The relationship between METs and lower diabetes risk was seen across strata of age, sex, race, obesity, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia.

“Future studies should examine the association between change in fitness over time and incident diabetes,” the authors write.

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