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Is brisk walking better than casual walking for diabetes control? Study finds | Health

Be it your daily morning walk or the leisurely afternoon stroll, walking has been recognised as a very effective way to manage diabetes. Walking 10,000 steps has been recommended by The American Diabetes Association to reduce risk of diabetes. However, a new study, offers an interesting insight connecting the pace of your walking to lowering your risk of the metabolic disorder. (Also read | Fenugreek can help control blood sugar, cholesterol; 7 wonderful benefits)

A new study published in British Journal of Sports Medicine says, brisk walking is associated with around 40% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life(Shutterstock)

A new study published in British Journal of Sports Medicine says, brisk walking is associated with around 40% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, emphasizing that it’s not just the duration of the walk, but its intensity that can help people keep diabetes at bay.

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So, even if you speed up your pace a bit, you are at 24% lower risk than those who easily or casually walked, as per the study. Increasing your walking intensity to a brisk pace could offer as much as 39% reduction in risk.

As per the study, easy or casual walking was defined as less than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) per hour, average or normal pace was defined as 2 to 3 miles (3.2 to 4.8 kilometers) per hour and a ‘fairly brisk’ pace was 3 to 4 miles (4.8 to 6.4 kilometers) per hour. Brisk/striding walking was more than 4 (6.4 kilometers) per hour. “Each kilometer increase in walking speed above brisk was associated with a 9% lower risk of developing the disease,” observed the study.

“That faster walking may be more beneficial isn’t surprising, but the researchers’ ‘ability to quantify the speed of walking and incorporate that into their analysis is interesting,” said Dr. Robert Gabbay, chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association, via email. Gabbay wasn’t involved in the study.

Expert talk: Benefits of brisk walking

“Brisk walking is generally considered more effective for diabetes control than normal walking. The intensity of brisk walking elevates your heart rate and increases oxygen consumption, leading to improved insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. This can be particularly advantageous for individuals with diabetes as it helps regulate blood sugar levels more efficiently. The increased effort in brisk walking enhances cardiovascular fitness and promotes weight management, both crucial factors in diabetes management. While any form of walking contributes to overall health, the added intensity of brisk walking provides additional cardiovascular and metabolic benefits, making it a preferred choice for those aiming to control diabetes through physical activity. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise routine, especially for individuals with pre-existing health conditions like diabetes,” says Dr Aniket Mule, consultant internal medicine, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road.


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