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Taking 10,000 Steps a Day May Lower Diabetes Risk

Study Shows Building Up to 10,000 Steps a Day May Lead to Weight Loss and Better Insulin Sensitivity

“Enormous Implications”

“This is an interesting article, and the implication is theoretically enormous,” says Gerald Bernstein, MD, the director of the Diabetes Management Program at the Friedman Diabetes Institute at Beth Isreal Medical Center in New York City.

“Activity of daily living or moving more has a positive effect on insulin sensitivity, which is a big problem in people with diabetes and prediabetes,” he says.

“There is a real basis to the science from the test tube to the real world that if you move around, you do something good in terms of insulin,” he says. “Insulin production and sensitivity deteriorates with age, so over five years we don’t expect things to be as good as they were during that first year. The fact that insulin sensitivity had improved or sustained itself in the new study is important because a period of time had passed.

“Whenever you can, walk,” Bernstein says.“If you walk 10 blocks instead of taking a bus and do it in both directions, that is already one mile."

Doctors need to talk the talk and patients need to walk the walk, says Joel Zonszein, MD, a professor of clinical medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center, both in New York.

“Exercise is always healthy and doctors always tell patients ‘you need to exercise more’, and this study shows that persistent exercise over five years is beneficial,” he says.

“Patients who continue to exercise do better,” he says.

Making lifestyle changes and sticking with them is not always easy, he says. “Some people like the gym, and some people like to walk, so we need to give an exercise prescription and follow up to see what happens, and then maybe adjust the dose."

Is It the Weight Loss or Exercise That Lowers Diabetes Risk?

Lawrence Cheskin, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, says the new study results are likely generalizable to the U.S. population.

“We know that any time you lose weight, you will have improvements in insulin sensitivity and one of the hallmarks of diabetes is insulin resistance or insensitivity,” he says.

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