Activity Links With Better Health, Regardless of Diabetes

Miriam E. Tucker, for Medscape

March 27, 2023

The study covered in this summary was published on Research Square as a preprint and has not yet been peer reviewed.

Key Takeaways

  • Physical activity has a strong dose-response relationship with self-reported health.

  • Sedentary behaviors tended to link with worse self-reported health but generally were not significant nor in a dose-response manner.

Why This Matters

  • Physical activity is recommended for people with diabetes as well as those at risk for diabetes, but its impact on self-reported health in people with or without diabetes hasn't been well studied.

  • Previous studies on the effects of physical activity and sedentary behaviors on general health focused primarily on people with diabetes. The current study explored the effects of physical activity and sedentary behaviors on self-reported health in people with diabetes as well as in the general adult population.

  • Self-report questionnaires may help quickly quantify physical activity in people with diabetes and aid in individualizing lifestyle interventions.

Study Design

  • The study used data from a cross-sectional 2019 survey of 649 adult residents of the Swiss canton of Vaud with diabetes (CoDiab-VD) and from 21,430 adults in the general population in the 2017 edition of the population-based Swiss Health Survey, including the 951 of these people who had diabetes.

  • On the basis of answers to survey questions, the researchers divided the cohorts in accordance with five activity strata: inactive, partially active, irregularly active, regularly active, and trained. They also used results from two measures of sedentary behavior: estimated hours per day spent sitting, and frequency of standing up when seated.

  • The authors ran statistical analyses of the relationships between activity, sedentary behavior, and self-reported health scored by each study participant on a five-point scale that varied between the two datasets: either very good, good, average, poor, very poor; or excellent, very good, good, fair, poor.

  • In the analyses, ordinal logistic regression models were used, and adjustment was made for several potential confounding variables.

Key Results

  • Among the people who self-reported being in the two lowest levels of health, 14% to 19% of those had diabetes (depending on the dataset), and 4% were of the general population.

  • In the adjusted logistic regression models, increasing levels of activity significantly linked with better levels of health. Compared with the inactive subgroup, among those with diabetes, the highest activity level linked with a significant 2.6-fold to 4.2-fold higher level of health status. In the general population, the greatest activity linked with a 3.2-fold higher level of better health status compared with inactive people.

  • This association was dose dependent; the higher the amount of physical activity, the better was self-reported health.

  • For sedentary behaviors, the researchers found small but generally not significant trends toward associations with self-reported health.


  • The study used self-reported data that may have overestimated activity and underestimated sedentary behavior.

  • Assessment of activity occurred in surveys in 2017 and 2019, but assessment of sedentary behaviors only occurred in 2019.

  • The study used two sets of measures for methods for self-reported health.

  • The two questions used to assess sedentary behaviors have not undergone validation.


  • The study received no commercial funding.

  • None of the authors had disclosures.

This is a summary of the preprint report, "Association Between Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviors, and Self-Reported Health: Population-Based Cross-Sectional Analysis of Individuals With Diabetes and the General Population," by researchers at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and from other institutions in Lausanne, published on Research Square, and provided to you by Medscape. It has not yet been peer reviewed. The full text of the study can be found on

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