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Walking faster may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, says study

A study found that in addition to walking being a good measure against the development of type 2 diabetes, the speed at which you move can help even more.

Brisk walking is associated with an almost 40 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, according to the study published Tuesday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“Previous studies indicated that frequent walking was associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the general population, such that those who spent more time walking each day were at a lower risk [de ter a doença],” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Ahmad Jayedi, an assistant researcher at the Research Center on Social Determinants of Health at Iran’s Semnan University of Medical Sciences.

However, previous reports did not indicate the ideal walking speed for reducing diabetes risk, and comprehensive reviews of the evidence were lacking, the authors noted.

Researchers reviewed 10 studies, conducted between 1999 and 2022, that evaluated the relationship between walking speed, measured by timed objective tests or subjective reports from participants, and the development of type 2 diabetes among adults in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan. .

After being followed for eight years, on average, those who walked at an average or normal pace had a 15% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes when compared to those who walked at an easy or casual pace, researchers found.

Easy or casual walking was defined as less than 2 miles per hour. The average or normal pace was defined as 3.2 to 4.8 kilometers per hour.

However, walking at a “slightly fast” pace, 4.8 to 6.4 kilometers per hour, indicated a 24% lower risk of developing the disease than those who walked at an easy or casual pace.

And “brisk/broad walking,” exceeding 6.4 kilometers per hour, had the greatest benefit: a 39% reduction in the risk of diabetes 2.

Each kilometer increase in walking speed above fast was associated with a 9% lower risk of developing the disease.

The fact that walking faster may be more beneficial isn’t surprising, but “researchers’ ability to quantify walking speed and incorporate that into their analysis is interesting,” said Dr. Robert Gabbay, chief scientific and medical officer at the American Diabetes Association. . Gabbay did not participate in the study in question.

The report also highlights the idea that “intensity is important for diabetes prevention,” said Dr. Carmen Cuthbertson, assistant professor of health education and promotion at East Carolina University, who was also not involved in the study.

“Practicing any amount of physical activity can bring health benefits, but it seems that, to prevent diabetes, it is important to practice some higher intensity activities, such as brisk walking, to obtain the greatest benefit”, highlighted the specialist.

Understanding the Benefits of Brisk Walking

The study does not prove cause and effect, Gabbay said, but “one can imagine that more vigorous exercise could result in greater physical fitness, reduced body weight and therefore insulin resistance, and reduced risk of diabetes.”

Michio Shimabukuro, professor and chairman of the department of diabetes, endocrinology and metabolism at Fukushima Medical University School of Medicine, agreed with that assessment.

He added that “increased exercise intensity due to faster walking speeds may result in greater stimulation for physiological functions and improved health status.” Shimabukuro was not involved in the study.

Walking speed may also simply reflect health status, meaning that healthier people tend to walk faster, said Dr. Borja del Pozo Cruz, principal health researcher at the University of Cádiz in Spain, who was also not present. involved in the research.

“There is a high risk of reverse causality, [em que] health deficits are more likely to explain the observed results,” added del Pozo Cruz.

“We need randomized clinical trials to confirm – or not – the results observed”, he stated.

Tips for controlling walking

The overall message “is that walking is an important way to improve health,” Gabbay said.

“It may be true that walking faster is even better. But given the fact that most Americans can’t walk enough, it’s really important to encourage people to walk more, as much as possible,” she cautioned.

If you want to challenge yourself, however, using a fitness tracker, via a watch, pedometer or smartphone app, can help you measure and maintain your walking pace, experts comment.

If you can’t get a fitness tracker, an easy alternative for monitoring exercise intensity is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “talk test,” which is based on understanding how physical activity affects your fitness. heart rate and breathing.

If, while walking, you can speak in a heavy voice but cannot sing, your pace is probably fast.

Source: CNN Brasil

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