If a person is at higher than average risk of getting diabetes and has a low level of physical activity, they are more likely to get the disease if they don’t walk very much during the day. This is the result of a recent study on the subject done in Diabetes Care—a journal on diabetes. It turns out that even very small amounts of activity, such as walking, will reduce the risk of getting diabetes. The recommended number of steps is 10,000. About 2000 steps equal a mile. That’s 5 miles per day.
The new study actually measured walking using a pedometer, which was worn by 1800 people for a week. The pedometer recorded the number of steps each participant took. The participants all came from Native American cultures which are known to have low physical activity and a high hereditary risk of diabetes.
Previous studies have shown that more working means a lower risk of diabetes. But most of those didn’t measure the actual walking times. In this study, it was found that 25 percent of people took fewer than 3500 steps per day and half took fewer than 7800 steps per day. There was a five year follow up in the study and they found that 243 developed diabetes by the end of the time. 17 percent of those who didn’t walk much got the disease, while only 12 percent of those people who walked more than 3800 steps got the disease.
Those who walked the most had a 29 percent less chance of getting diabetes when compared to those who didn’t walk as much. It turns out that even light activity is related to diabetes protection.
While the study couldn’t hope to prove that more walking protects you from diabetes but it is possible that increased walking reduced weight, which is associated with lower diabetes risk. The study took into account the Body Mass index of the participants of the study and when this was done, it turned out that walking alone didn’t provide any real advantage. Even so, losing weight through walking is a good idea and, if it can be done, it can lower your risk of getting diabetes.
It’s well known that increased activity burns more calories and therefore decreases weight. Weigh loss is the primary factor known to decrease the chances of getting diabetes. Physical activity has effects; too, on inflammation so that glucose management can be affected by the way physical activity reduces inflammation. Walking seems to have the greatest effect on those people who were really inactive.