Meeting the recommended 150 minutes a week of physical activity can reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 26% according to new research by scientists at University College London and the University of Cambridge published in the journal Diabetologia. 
The benefits increase for people who carry out an hour of moderate-to-vigorous exercise a day by 40%.
Lead researcher Andrea Smith, from University College London, said:
"Our results suggest a major potential for physical activity to slow down or reverse the global increase in type 2 diabetes"
The study reviewed data from 23 studies carried out in the USA, Europe, Asia and Australia covering over a million people. The researchers looked at the effect of differing levels of physical activity alone, independent of dietary changes, demonstrated that doing something was better than nothing, however, the greatest benefits were for those who exceed the recommended levels of physical activity.
Dr Soren Brage, co-author of the study from the University of Cambridge, added:
"This research shows that some physical activity is good, but more is better.
We already know that physical activity has a major role to play in tackling the growing worldwide epidemic of type 2 diabetes. These new results add more detail to our understanding of how changes in the levels of physical activity across populations could impact the incidence of disease. They also lend support to policies to increase physical activity at all levels. This means building environments that make physical activity part of everyday life.”
Self-reported data suggests that a third of adults (15 years or older) globally are not meeting the recommended targets - due to an ever-increasing sedentary lifestyle. 
References:  Physical activity and incident type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and dose–response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies, Smith, A.D., Crippa, A., Woodcock, J. et al. Diabetologia (2016).  Global report on diabetes, World Health Organization, Geneva, 2016.  Global physical activity levels: surveillance progress, pitfalls, and prospects. Hallal PC et al., (2012), Lancet