Many believe that Latinos with type 2 diabetes do not get enough exercise. However, this study found that adult Latino participants were moderately active. This is likely due to their activity during work.

More about physical activity level in Latinos with diabetes

In the United States, type 2 diabetes is almost twice as high in Latinos from Mexico compared with non-Latino whites. We know that exercising and decreasing the amount of time sitting can greatly improve the health of Latinos with diabetes. Benefits include weight loss, better blood sugar control, reduced heart disease risk, and improved mental health. Current research shows that many people with type 2 diabetes do not get enough exercise. The Mil Familias research program at Sansum Diabetes Research Institute measured activity levels in a group of Latino adults with type 2 diabetes. Bilingual community health workers trained study participants in how to use two devices that participants wore to track their physical activity. Participants wore an “Actigraph” (a research device) on their hip and a “FitBit” (a consumer device) on their wrist. These measured their daily steps and how much energy/calories they burned. In addition, participants self-reported their level of physical activity in a Spanish-language pictogram questionnaire.

Many people believe that Latinos with type 2 diabetes are very inactive. However, the results from this study showed differently. For example, only 10% of participants were sedentary according to their FitBit. Further, this study found that the amount of physical activity from the wearable devices showed moderate levels of physical activity. Most participants had an average of 5,000 steps per day or more. There were some interesting differences between men and women. For example, among women, physical activity and calories burned were much lower on weekends than weekdays. In contrast, the men kept an even level of physical activity throughout the entire week. This could be because of men’s specific jobs and continuing to work on weekends. Overall, participants either met or were very close to meeting the recommended goal of 10,000 steps per day.

In summary, we know that low levels of physical activity increase one’s risk for type 2 diabetes. In fact, any amount of physical activity has some health benefits for people with diabetes. This study found that the overall level of physical activity was high in Latino participants with type 2 diabetes. These findings challenge the idea that this population does not exercise enough.

See our resource page for more information about Latinos and Diabetes

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Photo courtesy of  Mil Familias © 2018