THURSDAY, Jan. 13, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- The more you walk, the lower your risk of diabetes, say Australian researchers.
The scientists tracked 592 middle-aged adults who participated in a study to map diabetes levels across Australia between 2000 and 2005. Participants underwent a health examination at the start of the study and provided details about their eating and lifestyle habits.
The volunteers were also given a pedometer and instructed how to use it.
Follow-up with the participants five years later showed that a higher daily step count was associated with a lower body-mass index (BMI), lower waist-to-hip ratio and better insulin sensitivity, even after adjusting for factors such as diet, smoking and alcohol intake.
These associations were independent of calorie intake and appeared to be largely due to a change in weight, said the researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne.
They calculated that a sedentary person who changed his or her behavior and started walking 10,000 steps every day would achieve a threefold improvement in insulin sensitivity, compared with a similar person who walked 3,000 steps a day, five days a week.
The 10,000 steps per day is a popular guideline, but a more recent recommendation is 3,000 steps per day, five days a week.
"These findings, confirming an independent beneficial role of higher daily step count on body-mass index, waist-to-hip ratio and insulin sensitivity, provide further support to promote higher physical activity levels among middle-aged adults," the researchers concluded in a news release.
The study appears in the online edition of the British Medical Journal.
The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine has more about walking.