Diseases & Conditions

Will walking faster reduce your diabetes risk?

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By , Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

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A study published online Nov. 28, 2023, by the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that picking up the pace of your daily walk — the faster, the better — is linked to a lower risk of developing diabetes. Researchers pooled the data of 10 studies from the past two decades, representing more than 508,000 adults (most of them middle-aged) from around the world. Participants were followed for three to 11 years. Compared with "casual" walking (at less than 2 mph), walking 2 mph to 3 mph (brisk walking) was associated with a 15% lower risk of diabetes, no matter how long people walked each day. Walking 3 mph to 4 mph was associated with a 24% lower diabetes risk. And going faster than 4 mph was tied to a 39% lower diabetes risk. The study was observational and doesn't prove conclusively that lively stepping keeps you from getting diabetes. But we already know that brisk walking, like any aerobic activity that works your heart and lungs, helps you control blood sugar levels, weight, and cardiovascular health, which are all important for avoiding diabetes and many other chronic diseases.

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About the Author

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Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Heidi Godman is the executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. Before coming to the Health Letter, she was an award-winning television news anchor and medical reporter for 25 years. Heidi was named a journalism fellow … See Full Bio
View all posts by Heidi Godman

About the Reviewer

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Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter

Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff is the Steven P. Simcox/Patrick A. Clifford/James H. Higby Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and editor in chief of the Harvard … See Full Bio
View all posts by Anthony L. Komaroff, MD

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