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Walking at a speed of 4 or more km an hour is linked to a significantly lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, suggests a study.
And the faster the speed above 4 km/hour, the lower the risk seems to be, with every 1 km increase in speed associated with a 9 per cent reduction in risk, suggest the findings published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
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The global number of adults with Type 2 diabetes is currently 537 million, but is expected to reach 783 million by 2045, so a simple and inexpensive physical activity that is also associated with several other social, mental, and physical health benefits, might be an easy way of helping to stave off the disease, said the researchers from Semnan University of Medical Sciences in Iran.
The study is based on an analysis of 10 long term studies published between 1999 and 2022. These included monitoring periods ranging from 3 to 11 years for a total of 508,121 adults from the US, Japan, and the UK.
Compared with strolling at less than 2 miles or 3 km/hour, an average or normal walking speed of 2-3 miles or 3-5 km/hour was associated with a 15 per cent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, irrespective of the time spent walking.
Similarly, fairly brisk walking at a speed of 3-4 miles/hour or 5-6 km/hour was associated with a 24 per cent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes compared with strolling.
Brisk walking or striding at a speed above 4 miles or 6 km/hour was associated with a reduced risk of around 39 per cent, equal to 2.24 fewer cases of Type 2 diabetes in every 100 people.
Every 1 km/hour increase in walking speed was associated with a 9 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes, with the minimal threshold of 4km/hour equal to 87 steps/min for men and 100 steps/min for women, the findings suggest.
"The present meta-analysis of cohort studies suggests that fairly brisk and brisk/striding walking, independent of the total volume of physical activity or time spent walking per day, may be associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in adults," said the researchers.
"While current strategies to increase total walking time are beneficial, it may also be reasonable to encourage people to walk at faster speeds to further increase the health benefits of walking," they added.
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