The study, released in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, is in line with previous research that showed exercise can lower the risk of diabetes for men and women.
The study of 70,102 women in the Nurses Health Study found that the more vigorous the exercise, the lower the risk of adult-onset, non-insulin dependent diabetes. Researchers, led by Dr. Frank B. Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health, said vigorous walking lowered the risk of diabetes as effectively as other physical activities.
The most vigorous exercise was associated with a 46 percent less risk of developing the disease.
The authors said the findings lend support to guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health that call for Americans to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day.
Diabetes occurs when the body is insulin deficient, becomes impaired in its capacity to use insulin, or both.