More Brisk Walking May Reduce Diabetes Risk

Even when it’s too cold or icy to walk outdoors, staying active by using an indoor track or treadmill, or getting your steps in at the local mall is not only important to preserve fitness and function, but regular brisk walking may help lower the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. 

According to a new University of California San Diego study, published in Diabetes Care, taking more steps each day, and with greater intensity, is associated with a decreased risk for developing diabetes.  Researchers studied a group of women over the age of 65 who did not have a diabetes diagnosis and were living independently over a period of up to seven years. 

For every 1,000 steps per day, the study found the risk for developing diabetes dropped by 6 percent among the participating postmenopausal women.  If this population increased their daily steps to 2,000, researchers predicted that older women could reduce their diabetes risk by 12 percent.  Ready to do more brisk walking?

The study suggests that although many walking programs set a daily step goal of 10,000, increasing a step count to 2,000 or more could have significant benefits to overall health and help prevent chronic illnesses like diabetes.  By increasing intensity, walking faster or uphill at intervals, the benefits also increase.  

The takeaway?  For adults between 70 and 80 years, moderate to vigorous walking could be a walk around the block.  Instead of trying to reach a goal of 10,000 steps, increasing step count and intensity even slightly can offer health benefits and lower the risk for diabetes.  According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.5 million people are diagnosed with diabetes every year but modifiable lifestyle choices like diet and exercise can make a significant impact on the number of people who develop type 2 diabetes.  

For an easy way to boost your step count and take up the intensity a notch, try walking to music.  Pop in your earbuds and choose a song or two with a rhythm that will pick up your pace a bit.  Paradise by the Dashboard Light by Meatloaf seems like an appropriate choice today following the news of the American rock star and actor’s death on January 20, 2022, at the age of 74. 

As always, talk with your doctor before starting any new exercise program and increase intensity and duration gradually to avoid injury.