Some exercise is better than none

9 Sep 2020

people exercising

At least weekly participation in a wide range of recreational activities can help prevent hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, a University of Queensland study has found.

The study followed more than 8000 participants over a six-year period, tracking the frequency and type of exercise and sport they took part in.

Dr Gregore Mielke from UQ’s School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences said nearly one in five Brisbane adults experience hypertension and obesity, and one in 20 are diabetic, yet evidence of the role that participation in a range of sports and recreational activities plays in the prevention of these major health conditions is scarce.

“We investigated the associations between participation in sport and exercise and incidence of hypertension, diabetes, and obesity in a cohort of Australian adults aged 40 years and over,” Dr Mielke said.

“Participants reported frequency of participation in running, cycling, swimming, golf, lawn bowls, tennis, team sports, home-based exercise, group exercise classes, resistance training, yoga/tai chi, and Pilates, together with their height, weight and any identified health conditions."

The research team, including Dr Tom Bailey, Professor Wendy Brown, and Dr Nicola Burton found that running, cycling, resistance training and yoga/tai chi were associated with lower occurrence of hypertension and diabetes, while cycling, tennis, home-based exercise, resistance training and yoga/tai chi were associated with lower occurrence of diabetes.

This study supports current efforts by government and non-government organisations to create opportunities for more widespread access to, and continuing participation in, the types of activities that are preferred by middle-aged adults.

“More research is needed to investigate how participation in these activities can help manage health conditions, and to identify strategies to increase active recreation among people aged 40-65 years,” Dr Mielke said.

The study is published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.

Media: Dr Gregore Mielke,, +61 7 3346 9710; Jo Hickman, UQ Communications,