Scientists find: Walking reduces risk of type 2 diabetes, and your speed may affect it

Photo: Pexels / Daniel Reche

The first global study found that brisk walking was associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, he writes The Guardian.

Type 2 diabetes is one of the biggest health threats, which according to the WHO has increased sharply in the last three decades.

More than 537 million people have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but millions more are believed to be unaware they have the problem. This disease is the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower limb amputation.

Researchers have known for years that walking and frequent walking is associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, until now it was not clear what walking speed was needed to reduce the risk, but now it is known how much to increase the pace of the effect would be positive.

A worldwide analysis found that brisk walking is better for reducing risk than slow walking.

The researchers found that people who walked at a speed of 3 kilometers per hour had a lower chance of getting this disease, while those who walked faster, more than 6 kilometers per hour, reduced their risk by 39 percent.

Although physical activity is known to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, researchers from Imperial College London, the Iran University of Medical Sciences and the New University College of Oslo wanted to find out what the optimal walking speed is for this.

The team looked at 10 studies published between 1999 and 2022 that followed people for between 3 and 11 years, involving a total of 508.121 people from Britain, Japan and the United States.

Compared to an easy walk of 3 kilometers per hour, a speed of 3 to 5 kilometers per hour reduces the risk by 15 percent, regardless of walking time. The risk it decreases significantly, by 24 percent, with acceleration between 5 and 6 kilometers per hour, while in those who go faster than 6 kilometers per hour decreases by 39 percent.

"Although current strategies to increase walking time are beneficial, it may be reasonable to encourage people to walk faster to increase the benefits of walking," the researchers said.

There are also some limitations to this research – scientists say it's very possible that people who walk faster are physically fitter and have more muscle mass, which leads to better health. But they believe there are explanations for their discovery. Walking speed is an important indicator of health.

"The study emphasizes what we already know, that physical activity, which can include brisk walking, can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and increasing the intensity, such as even faster walking, produces better results." We hope for new research to confirm whether the acceleration is enough to reduce the risk. Walking is a free, simple activity that easily fits into your regular activities - said Neil Gibson, physical activity advisor.

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