Could a walk help prevent diabetes? Yes, as it turns out—and the faster the pace, the better.
New research shows that the risk plummets as brisk walking could cut the odds by up to 39% compared to an easy saunter.
While doctors have long touted walking’s diabetes prevention potential, the fresh focus on intensity now proves both duration and speed play pivotal roles.
How Walking Speed Directly Impacts Diabetes Risk
Researchers analysed 10 previous studies conducted between 1990 and 2022 that linked walking pace to the development of type 2 diabetes in adults. The final systematic review, published on the British Journal of Sports Medicine, spanned the U.S, United Kingdom, and Japan.
They discovered that faster walking speeds correlated with a lower risk of developing diabetes:
- Easy/casual pace (<2 mph): 15% lower risk
- Normal pace (2-3 mph): 24% lower risk
- Fairly brisk (3-4 mph): 39% lower risk
Why Walking Speed Matters for Diabetes Risk
Researchers believe that speed is a factor in the prevention of type 2 diabetes because walking speed is an indicator of overall health status.
“Apparently healthy people who can walk briskly are more likely to participate in daily physical activity programmes,” the researchers wrote.
Additionally, brisker walking paces associate with superior cardiorespiratory fitness—itself linked with lower diabetes risk. Cardiorespiratory fitness pertains to the capacity of the circulatory and respiratory systems to deliver oxygen to the muscles throughout continuous physical exertion.
The researchers also tied walking speed to muscle strength, noting that muscle loss can prompt inflammation and increase one’s diabetes risk. Moreover, brisk walking may decrease body weight, waist size, and body fat percentage—all of which can boost insulin sensitivity.
The speed findings underscore existing exercise guidelines for diabetes prevention and care. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends 150-300 minutes per week of moderate activity like brisk walks, 75-150 minutes of vigorous jogging, or a combination.
Similarly, losing 5-7% of body weight can reduce one’s risk of developing diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). For a 200-pound person, that equals a 10-14 pound loss. The NIDDK further advises at least 30 minutes of daily activity—along with diets low in trans-fat, saturated fat and added sugars.
1 in 10 Americans Now Have Type 2 Diabetes
Roughly 38 million Americans have diabetes. Of those cases, 90-95% have type 2 diabetes specifically. Historically the condition has developed in adults over 45 years old. However, diabetes rates are increasing among children, teens, and young adults, according to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Type 2 diabetes is caused when cells are no longer responding normally to insulin. Called insulin resistance, the pancreas will continue to make more until it can’t keep up. Resulting high blood sugar causes slow but cumulative damage of vital organs, increasing the risk of heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
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A Handful of Nuts Per Day Could Keep Heart Disease Away
Next time you reach for your daily apple, pick up a handful of nuts as well. It could do your heart some good.
Scandinavian researchers reviewed 60 studies and found a strong association between nut consumption and heart disease and the risk of heart attacks.
They found that as little as a handful of nuts—which is about 30 grams—every day could lower the risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease by 20 to 25%. The researchers found that more nuts are better, but that eating just a few nuts per day is better than none.
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Interesting! What Happens When You Eat An Avocado A Day?
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