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Walking Can Reduce the Risk of Diabetes

Source: T. Dwyer, A.-L. Ponsonby, O. C. Ukoumunne, A. Pezic, A. Venn, D. Dunstan, E. Barr, S. Blair, J. Cochrane, P. Zimmet, J. Shaw. Association of change in daily step count over five years with insulin sensitivity and adiposity: population based cohort study. BMJ 342, 13 January 2011.

Unlike other studies which have successfully shown that physical activity helps to reduce insulin resistance and body mass index, which may represent early stage of diabetes, this study actually shows the long-term effects associated with daily walking and insulin sensitivity.

A recommended guideline is to try to walk more than 10,000 steps every day; however the most recent recommendation is to try to walk 3000 steps for five days a week. The study, which was conducted by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, involved 592 adults in middle age and mapped diabetes levels throughout Australia between the years 2000 and 2005. The individuals involved in the study were given a questionnaire that examined their diet and lifestyle habits and they were also required to go through a health examination. They were then given a pedometer, and instructions on how to use it and were monitored five years later to see the results. Other factors that were taken into account included diet, smoking and alcohol. What the study showed was that those individuals who had a higher daily step count throughout the five years also had a better insulin sensitivity level, a lower waist to hip ratio and a lower body mass index.

These results do not take into account what type of dietary intake the participants had and attributed the results to a change in adiposity over five years as a result of walking. The authors of the study concluded that a sedentary individual who had a low number of daily steps and changed this behavior over five years to increase it to 10,000 daily steps could improve insulin sensitivity three times over that compared with a person who increased their steps but only met the recommendation of 3000 steps five days a week. In other words, the findings of the study were confirmation that a higher daily rate was more beneficial to lowering body mass index, lowering hip to waist ratio and increasing insulin sensitivity. These results are further proof of the benefits that are derived from higher physical activity especially among middle-aged adults.

Having a regular physical activity program is very important to reducing the risk of type II diabetes in two different ways. First is that physical activity helps to reduce overall body weight, which is one of the factors that leads to a higher risk of diabetes. Additionally ongoing physical activity helps to improve insulin sensitivity, which allows the body to make better use of its own insulin. So whether you are walking for exercise or just simply indulging in some type of regular physical activity, you should know that by exercising you can add more years to your life.

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