Physical activity is good for our health, especially for people living with type 2 diabetes (T2D). For instance, physical activity lows risk of a heart attack or stroke. However, for some people, it can be challenging to be active. Wearable activity trackers (such as FitBits) can empower people with diabetes to improve their activity levels. The devices are simple, fairly affordable, easy to use, and motivational.

Tell your doctor if you plan to be more physically active

Recently, researchers reviewed medical studies with over 4,000 participants with T2D, obesity, or prediabetes. They found that participants with wearable activity trackers had higher levels of physical activity than people without trackers. Also, if a doctor or other healthcare professional supports the use of the tracker, then the benefit of a tracker was even greater. For participants with T2D, use of a fitness tracker also helped to control blood sugar levels. Trackers especially helped men.

Sansum Diabetes Research Institute is leading the way

We know that physical activity is very important for people managing T2D. However, current evidence suggests that few adults with T2D do enough physical activity. Also, activity levels vary by race/ethnicity. For example, our researchers at Sansum Diabetes Research Institute (SDRI) compared a research-based device worn on the waist with a Fitbit worn on the wrist in Hispanic/Latino adults with T2D. We found moderate levels of physical activity in this population. However, the Fitbit recorded higher step counts compared with the research belt. Our findings challenge the assumption that Hispanic/Latinos with T2D are inactive. Other research in this area is underway.

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