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Walking cuts your risk of diabetes

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The speed you walk may help reduce your chances of type 2 diabetes, a new study has discovered

Eating a healthy diet that’s low in processed sugars is the best way to prevent type 2 diabetes—but researchers have discovered that walking every day can also lower your risk.

Your chances of developing diabetes reduce as you increase the speed you walk, but even people who take a leisurely stroll get some protective effect, say researchers from Semnan University of Medical Sciences in Iran.

They took another look at 10 studies that had analyzed the impact of walking on diabetes risk for around half a million people in Britain, America and Japan and discovered that the pace was more important than the amount of time spent walking.

The critical speed seems to be 2 mph (3.2 km/h); even a relaxed stroll will lower your risk. In the 2–3 mph (3.2–4.8 km/h) range, you’ll be reducing your diabetes risk by around 15 percent, and it will continue to fall by 9 percent for every 0.5 mph (1 km/h) increase in your walking pace.

As the average speed for someone who’s over the age of 65 is 2.1 mph, that should be achievable as long as you don’t have significant mobility issues.

Stepping up the pace to 3 to 4 mph drops your risk by 24 percent, and those who can walk at a fast clip of 4 mph or more reduce their risk by 39 percent. That translates into 2.24 fewer cases of diabetes per 100 people—a significant reduction of a disease that affects about 537 million people around the world.

Other studies have found that increasing the number of steps you walk daily also helps maintain reasonable health. Although the ideal seems to be 10,000 steps a day, the origins of this total aren’t clear but are likely linked to the brand name of a pedometer that was sold in Japan.

How your walking pace reduces diabetes risk1

Speed Steps per minute Risk reduction
2.5 mph (4 km/h) 87 15%
3.5 mph (5.6 km/h) 100 24%
4+ mph (6.4+ km/h) 133 39%

Average walking speeds2

Age Speed
Under 30 3 mph (4.82 km/h)
30–49 years 2.8 mph (4.54 km/h)
50–59 years 2.75 mph (4.43 km/h)
60–64 years 2.7 mph (4.35 km/h)
65+ years 2.1 mph (3.42 km/h)




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  1. Br J Sports Med, 2023; doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2023-107336
  2. Sustainability, 2020; 12(18): 7360
MAR24. 'The diabetes quick step'
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