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SEMNAN, Iran — Walking at a brisk pace could significantly decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes, new research explains. The study points out that increasing walking speed by just one kilometer per hour (0.62 mph) can correlate with a nine-percent drop in the risk of developing the most common form of diabetes.

The research suggests that walking at a moderate pace of 3-5 km/h (1.86-3.1 mph) results in a 15-percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes compared to a leisurely pace of less than 3 km/h (1.86 mph), regardless of the total walking duration.

Moreover, a fairly brisk pace of 5-6 km/h (3.1-3.7 mph) is linked with a 24-percent reduced risk, while walking at speeds over 6 km/h (3.7 mph) is associated with an approximate 39-percent lower risk of the disease.

“The staggering global number of adults with Type 2 diabetes, currently at 537 million and projected to rise to 783 million by 2045, underscores the need for simple, cost-effective preventative measures. Walking briskly, which also confers various social, mental, and physical health benefits, could be an accessible intervention to combat this trend,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Ahmad Jayedi from Semnan University of Medical Sciences, in a media release.

Woman walking or exercising outside
Maintaining a brisk walking speed is associated with a 24% decrease in risk of Type 2 diabetes. (Credit: Photo by Daniel Reche on Pexels)

In their research, the team analyzed data from 10 studies, covering periods of three to 11 years and involving 508,121 adults from the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom. The findings suggest that the lower incidence of diabetes in fast walkers may be due to their generally higher physical activity levels and better overall health.

Walking speed is not just an indicator of overall health but also a marker of functional capacity. A faster pace indicates better cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, factors known to be inversely associated with diabetes risk,” Dr. Ahmad elaborates. “Thus, while it’s beneficial to increase the total time spent walking, encouraging people to walk faster could amplify the health benefits of this activity.”

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how the body regulates blood sugar, or glucose. Glucose is the body’s primary source of energy, derived from the food we eat. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells for energy.

In people with Type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin effectively. This results in high blood glucose levels, which can lead to serious complications over time, including heart disease, nerve damage, and vision problems.

The study is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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South West News Service writer Isobel Williams contributed to this report.

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