Habitual exercise is associated with reduced risk of diabetes regardless of air pollution: a longitudinal cohort study.

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Physical activity may increase a person's inhalation of air pollutants and exacerbate the adverse health effects. This study aimed to investigate the combined associations of chronic exposure to particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 μm (PM2.5) and habitual physical activity with the incidence of type 2 diabetes in Taiwan.We selected 156,314 non-diabetic adults (≥18 years old) who joined an ongoing longitudinal cohort between 2001 and 2016. Incident type 2 diabetes was identified at the follow-up medical examinations. Two-year mean PM2.5 exposure was estimated at each participant's address using a satellite-based spatiotemporal model. Information on physical activity and a wide range of covariates was collected using a standard self-administered questionnaire. We analysed the data using a Cox regression model with time-varying covariates. An interaction term between PM2.5 and physical activity was included to examine the overall interaction effects.Compared with high physical activity, moderate and inactive/low physical activity were associated with a higher risk of diabetes (HR [95% CI] 1.31 [1.22, 1.41] and 1.56 [1.46, 1.68], respectively). Participants with moderate/high PM2.5 had a higher risk of type 2 diabetes than the participants exposed to low PM2.5 (HR 1.31 [1.22, 1.40] and 1.94 [1.76, 2.14], respectively). The participants with high physical activity and low PM2.5 had a 64% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those with inactive/low physical activity and high PM2.5.Higher physical activity and lower PM2.5 exposure are associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Habitual physical activity can reduce the risk of diabetes regardless of the levels of PM2.5 exposure. Our results indicate that habitual physical activity is a safe diabetes prevention strategy for people residing in relatively polluted regions.


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Authors: Cui Guo, Hsiao Ting Yang, Ly-Yun Chang, Yacong Bo, Changqing Lin, Yiqian Zeng, Tony Tam, Alexis K H Lau, Gerard Hoek, Xiang Qian Lao

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