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Diabetes Can Be Reduced By Walking

January 14, 2011

A 5-year study from Australia concludes that increasing your daily step count not only wards off obesity but reduces the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes complications.

Several studies have shown that increasing physical activity reduces body mass index and insulin resistance – an early stage in the development of diabetes. This is the first study to estimate the effects of long-term changes in daily step count on insulin sensitivity.

The nationwide study undertaken in Australia measured diabetes levels.  Experts gave nearly 600 adults a pedometer to measure how many steps they took over two consecutive days in 2000 and again in 2005.

Subjects completed a diet and lifestyle questionnaire and had their measurements taken, including height, weight and insulin sensitivity.  It was found that people who walked the most after five years not only had a lower body mass index, but were also more sensitive to insulin and less likely to develop diabetes.

The study was paid for by the Australian government and pharmaceuticals groups who make diabetes drugs, including Abbott Australasia, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb and was published Thursday in the journal BMJ.

Walking 10,000 steps a day, the equivalent of about five miles (eight kilometers) has been recommended by governments and health officials. The study authors, from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, estimated that if a sedentary person increased their daily steps to reach the 10,000 step threshold, he or she would lower their body mass index by almost one point and improve their sensitivity to insulin by three times.

Health officials have long suggested people exercise to avoid diabetes and to improve overall health and well-being. “Think about what you do each day and how you can work in more steps.  You’ll be amazed at how these extra minutes and steps add up.”

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