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Brisk Walking May Help Cut Diabetes Risk by Nearly 40 Percent

Walking faster than 4 mph can cut diabetes risk by 39 percent.

Amie Dahnke, The Epoch Times, Nov 29, 2023

Could a walk help prevent diabetes? Yes, as it turns out-and the faster the pace, the better. New research shows that brisk walking could cut diabetes risk by up to 39 percent.

While doctors have long touted the diabetes-preventing potential of walking, the fresh focus on intensity now proves that both duration and speed play pivotal roles.

How Walking Speed Directly Affects Diabetes Risk

Researchers analyzed 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 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, spanned the United States, the UK, and Japan.

They discovered that faster walking speeds correlated with a lower risk of developing diabetes as follows:

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 are linked to 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 and ensure the body can deal with blood sugar effectively.

The findings support existing exercise guidelines for diabetes prevention and care. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate activity such as brisk walks, 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous jogging, or a combination.

Similarly, losing 5 to 7 percent 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 to 14 pound loss. The NIDDK further advises that daily activity of at least 30 minutes-along with diets low in trans fat, saturated fat, and added sugars-is critical to maintaining healthy blood sugar.

1 in 10 Americans Now Have Type 2 Diabetes

Roughly 38 million Americans have diabetes. Of those cases, 90 to 95 percent have Type 2 diabetes specifically. Historically, the condition has developed in adults older than 45. However, Type 2 diabetes rates are increasing among children, teens, and young adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Type 2 diabetes is caused when cells are no longer responding normally to insulin. Insulin shuttles blood sugar into cells, where it can be used for energy. When there's insulin resistance, however, the pancreas will continue to make more insulin until, eventually, it can't keep up. This results in high blood sugar, which causes slow but cumulative damage to vital organs, increasing the risk of heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

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