Seniors who walk more can reduce risk of diabetes, obesity

MASSACHUSETTS: New US research has found that walking more during middle age could lower an individual’s risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, and for women, also cut the risk of obesity.

Led by researchers at the University of Massachusetts, the new study looked at data gathered from 1,923 participants with an average age of 45 who were asked to wear an accelerometer device, which measures movement, for at least ten hours or more per day for a minimum of four days.

The participants were then followed for an average of nine years.

The findings, presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention | Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2020, showed that the participants who walked the most steps per day, on average, over the nine-year follow-up had a 43% lower risk of diabetes and a 31 percent lower risk of high blood pressure, compared to those who walked the fewest steps.

In addition, the researchers also found that for the female participants, for every 1,000 steps walked there was a 13% lower risk of obesity. Moreover, those who walked the most were 61% less likely to be obese, compared to women who walked the least.

The researchers commented on the findings saying, “The results of our study add to the growing evidence about the importance of regular physical activity for improving heart health, and that preventive efforts can be effective, even as middle-aged adults move into older adulthood.”

“Walking is a widely accessible form of physical activity, and steps-per-day is an easy measurement and motivator that most people understand and can easily measure given the booming industry of wearable technologies or smartphones,” added lead study author Amanda E Paluch, PhD.

“For people who find the idea of a daily, extended exercise period and physical activity regimen daunting, shifting the focus to accumulating steps throughout the day may help them become more active,” continued Paluch.

“The more steps, the better.”

“Diabetes and high blood pressure are not inevitable. Healthy lifestyle changes, such as attaining and maintaining a healthy body weight, improving diet and increasing physical activity can help reduce diabetes risk.

This study shows that walking is an effective therapy to decrease risk,” added Robert H Eckel, M.D., a former president of the American Heart Association.