Even a little bit of exercise can have big gains.
Taking a few moments for a walk each day is enough to lower the risk of diabetes in high-risk people who don’t regularly exercise, according to a new study.
The University of Washington and University of Pittsburgh researchers found that “modest levels of physical activity are associated with a lower risk of incident diabetes, compared with lower levels of activity,” they wrote in the journal Diabetes Care.
The study included 1,826 people from Native American communities who wore pedometers for a week. The study participants had an average body mass index of 32, which signifies obesity, News-Medical reported.
Researchers found that about 25 percent of the people took fewer than 3,500 steps per day, and about 50 percent of the people took fewer than 7,800 steps per day, Reuters reported. (There are about 2,000 steps in a mile.)
People who walked the most in the study had a 29 percent lower risk of diabetes compared to those who walked the least, Reuters reported. And the beneficial effects were seen even among people who took just 3,500 steps a day — 12 percent of people who walked this much each day developed diabetes by the end of the study period, compared with 17 percent of people who walked the least in the study, according to Reuters.
News-Medical pointed out that people who walked between 5,400 and 7,799 steps each day had a 26 percent lower risk of diabetes compared with people who walked less than 3,500 steps. And people who walked 7,800 or more steps each day had a 23 percent lower risk of diabetes.
This is definitely not the first time walking has been shown to ward off diabetes. An Australian study in the journal BMJ last year showed that simply increasing the amount you walk each day could have powerful effects in maintaining sensitivity to insulin — which could thereby ward off diabetes, MedPage Today reported.
According to the American Diabetes Association, people should aim to walk about 5 miles, or 10,000 steps, per day. As a strategy to increase the amount of time you walk each day, the ADA recommends starting with a comfortable pace — it can be as little as 10 minutes a day — and then gradually adding more time every week, until you get to about 30 to 45 minutes per day.
For more great health benefits of walking, click through the slideshow:
If you’re prone to being obese, spending just one hour going for a brisk walk may reduce your genetic influence by half. That’s the finding from a Harvard School of Public Health Study that was recently presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions.
“In our study, a brisk one-hour daily walk reduced the genetic influence towards obesity, measured by differences in BMI by half,” study researcher Qibin Qi, Ph.D. said in a statement. “On the other hand, a sedentary lifestyle marked by watching television four hours a day increased the genetic influence by 50 percent.”
Not only is it helpful to get moving from behind your desk — it might be harmful to stay slumped over your computer instead.
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