Brisk walking reduced risk of diabetes as effectively as running

by Barbara Hewitt on April 9, 2013

Over 65s are more likely to have diabetes than other age groups

Brisk walking reduced risk of diabetes as effectively as running

Walking briskly can lower the risk of diabetes as much as running according to a study which examined walkers and runner over a six year period. Researchers in the United States who analysed 33,060 runners and 15,045 walkers found that the same energy used for moderate intensity walking and vigorous intensity running resulted in similar reduction in risk for diabetes.

They also found that this intensity of exercise also reduced the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol and possibly coronary heart disease. They concluded that the more people walked or ran each week the more their healthy benefits increased.

‘Walking and running provide an ideal test of the health benefits of moderate intensity walking and vigorous intensity running because they involve the same muscle groups and the same activities performed at different intensities,’ said Paul Williams, the study’s principal author and staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Life Science Division in Berkeley, California. Unlike previous studies, the researchers assessed walking and running expenditure by distance, not by time. Participants provided activity data by responding to questionnaires.

‘The more the runners ran and the walkers walked, the better off they were in health benefits. If the amount of energy expended was the same between the two groups, then the health benefits were comparable,’ Williams explained.

Quote from DiabetesForum.com : “During the six-year study period, the investigators discovered that the same energy used for moderate intensity walking and vigorous intensity running lead to comparable reductions in the likelihood for diabetes, high blood pressure, and potentially coronary heart disease.”

Comparing energy expenditure to self reported, physician diagnosed incident hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes and coronary heart disease, researchers found that running significantly reduced risk for first time hypertension by 4.2% and walking reduced risk by 7.2%. Running reduced first time high cholesterol by 4.3% and walking by 7% while running reduced first time diabetes by 12.1% compared to 12.3% for walking and running reduced coronary heart disease 4.5% compared to 9.3% for walking.

‘Walking may be a more sustainable activity for some people when compared to running, however, those who choose running end up exercising twice as much as those that choose walking. This is probably because they can do twice as much in an hour,’ Williams said. Study participants were 18 to 80 years old, clustered in their 40s and 50s of which men represented 21% of the walkers and 51.4% of the runners. ‘People are always looking for an excuse not to exercise, but now they have a straightforward choice to run or to walk and invest in their future health,’ Williams added.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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