Nov. 29, 2023 -- If you want to walk to lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, new research suggests a speed of at least 2.5 mph, the equivalent of a brisk walk.
The analysis was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Previous research already had associated frequent walker with a lower risk, the journal says. But the necessary speed wasn’t known. The new study says that “walking at faster speeds” of 2.5 mph to 5 mph “was associated with a graded decrease in the risk of type 2 diabetes.”
NBC News reported, “Every 0.6 mph increase in walking speed in the analysis was associated with a 9% lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.”
Researchers gathered results of 10 studies that involved more than 500,000 people from the U.S., Japan and the U.K. who reported their walking habits. People who walked at an average pace of 2 to 3 mph had a 15% lower risk than those who strolled at a slower pace. Walking briskly at 3 to 4 mph was linked to a 24% lower risk. Walking faster than 4 mph was associated with a 39% reduction in risk.
According to NBC, the American Diabetes Association urges 10,000 steps or 30 minutes of daily walking to lower diabetes risk.
"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 the study’s lead author, Ahmad Jayedi, PhD, a nutrition researcher at Semnan University of Medical Sciences in Iran.
Brisk walking can reduce body fat, which in turn lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes. He told NBC that walking faster also helps lower insulin resistance — a built-up tolerance to insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels.