World Bulletin / News Desk
Among people at high risk for diabetes who get very little exercise, those who manage to walk more throughout the day are less likely to actually develop the blood sugar disorder, according to a U.S. study.
Earlier studies have shown that walking more is tied to a lower risk of diabetes, but few studies have looked into precise measures of how many steps people take each day, said Amanda Fretts, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle.
"Our finding wasn't surprising given that other studies have shown that even light activity is associated with a lower risk of diabetes," Fretts wrote in an email to Reuters Health.
To get a better sense of the potential benefits of walking, Fretts and her colleagues asked more than 1,800 people to wear a pedometer for a week to tally the number of steps they typically took each day.
All of them came from native American communities in Arizona, Oklahoma and North and South Dakota that are known to have low physical activity levels and high rates of diabetes.
About a quarter of the group were considered to have very low activity, taking fewer than 3,500 steps a day, while half took fewer than 7,800 steps a day. One mile is around 2,000 steps and daily walking recommendations typically point to a minimum of 10,000 steps a day.
At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had diabetes. But after five years of follow-up, 243 people had the condition.
About 17 percent of the people in the lowest activity group developed diabetes, compared to 12 percent of the people who took more than 3,500 steps a day.
After taking into account people's age, whether they smoked and other diabetes risk factors, Fretts's steam determined that people who walked the most were 29 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who walked the least.
The findings don't prove that walking more is responsible for the lower diabetes risk, but Fretts offered some possible explanations for how walking might help.
"Increased physical activity may prevent weight gain and promote weight loss, a major determinant of diabetes risk," she said.
Physical activity also has effects on inflammation, glucose and other molecules in the body that could help lower diabetes risk. But she added that the potential benefits of moderate levels of walking are "only for those who are really inactive to begin with."
'The level of alarm is extremely high,' says WHO head, calls for an emergency meeting
One person has tested positive in Denmark for the mosquito-borne Zika virus
The world is making 20 times more plastic than we did 50 years ago with the majority being dumped in the sea.
Colombia's government has signed new legislation for the regulation and legalization of cannabis to be used for medicinal purposes.
Scientists predict Earth will become increasingly hostile for mankind as it warms, with disastrous storms, floods and droughts, and rising sea levels that will consume islands and eat away at populated coasts
Hundreds of thousands of climate activists have descended on Paris ahead of the UN Climate Conference and are preparing to defy a ban on street protests joining thousands of protestors around the world.
'This is all bad news for the planet,' head of the World Meteorological Organization says
UN agency calls for urgent climate deal as hundreds of thousands fall victims to weather disasters
Fifty grams of processed meat eaten daily increases risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent, say experts
COP21 conference aims at securing a pact on greenhouse gases that would limit global warming to two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times.
Earth is on track for average warming of 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100, exceeding UN's anticipation
The London Project to Cure Blindness was established a decade ago to try to reverse vision loss in patients with age-related macular degeneration
Improvement has been seen around the globe, even in the key tropical rainforests of South America and Africa
Christiana Figueres says there is 1.2 million euros deficit to cover upcoming sessions
Some of the world's major cities, most Pacific island nations are at risk of disappearing due to rising seas
Yemen forces allied to the Houthi have launched a scud missile toward southern Saudi Arabia