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Walking 10,000 steps per day may prevent diabetes

January 13, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
  • The study indicates that a goal to walk at least 10,000 steps per day would bring a reduced diabetes risk.
The study indicates that a goal to walk at least 10,000 steps per day would… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

Walking, running or jogging a total of 10,000 steps per day improves a person's insulin sensitivity -- and that can reduce the risk of developing diabetes, researchers said Thursday.

The study, published online in the British Medical Journal, is also interesting because of what it shows about people's walking habits over time. The patterns often change.

Researchers at Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne examined 592 middle-aged adults. The participants underwent a health examination and were given a pedometer. They were reevaluated five years later. About 18% of the participants had a low number of steps per day at the start and end of the study, and about 17% had persistently high steps at both the start and end. And 26% decreased their steps over the five years, with 26% increasing their steps.

A higher step count over the entire five years was linked to a lower body mass index, less abdominal fat and better insulin sensitivity. The researchers concluded that an inactive person who takes few daily steps but increases walking distance over five years to reach a 10,000-step-per-day goal (about five miles a day) would have a threefold improvement in insulin sensitivity compared with a similar person who increases his or her steps to only about 3,000 per day.

Walking a lot decreases body fat over time, the authors said. The less fat, the lower one's diabetes risk.

Related: For older people, walking faster may be linked to living longer, a study finds

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