Your Walking Speed Affects Health Benefits

Brisk pace of at least 2.5mph lowers diabetes risk, study suggests
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2023 9:01 AM CST
Your Walking Speed Affects Health Benefits
   (Getty / Jorge Alcazar Narvaez)

Walking has long been known to lower risks for disease and obesity, but scientists have pinpointed how fast we need to step to reap the most benefits. Per NBC News, a meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggested that walking faster speeds, between 2.5 to 5mph, notably decreased the risk for Type 2 diabetes. The paper analyzed 10 studies with data on over 500,000 participants from the US, UK, and Japan. Those who walked between 2 to 3 mph had a 15% lower risk of Type 2 diabetes than people who walked at a strolling pace. Among the brisk walkers, increased walking speeds also yielded greater returns: every 0.6 mph increase in speed lowered the risk for developing the condition by 9%.

"While current strategies to increase walking time and to increase steps per day may be a good approach to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, it's also better to encourage people to walk at faster speeds," said Ahmad Jayedi, the study's lead author, noting that brisk walking helps lower insulin resistance. This news is uniquely helpful in the US. Per Today, one in 10 Americans have diabetes (38 million people), with the majority (90% to 95%) having Type 2 diabetes. On top of that, 30%, or 97 million, Americans have prediabetes. Along with lowering risks of heart disease and some cancers, exercise is especially important in preventing diabetes, as well as managing it.

While the study's findings encourage brisk walking at these optimal paces, doctors want to make sure people are moving regardless of speed. "It may be true that walking faster is even better," Dr. Robert Gabbay of the American Diabetes Association told CNN Health, "but given the fact that most Americans do not get sufficient walking in the first place, it is most important to encourage people to walk more as they're able to." Age, fitness level, and health status and abilities all factor into how quicky one can move. To test whether your heart is sufficiently elevated, epidemiologist and kinesiologist Amanda Paluch suggests walking at a pace where you can comfortably talk, but can't sing your favorite song without become breathless. (Roughly 70% of new Type 2 diabetes cases are linked to diet.)

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