Taking more steps every day will not only ward off obesity but will also reduce the risk of diabetes, finds a study published on bmj.com. While several studies have shown that physical activity reduces body mass index and insulin resistance—an early stage in the development of diabetes—this is the first study to estimate the effects of long-term changes in daily step count on insulin sensitivity.
A popular guideline is to do 10,000 steps every day, though a more recent recommendation is 3,000 steps, five days a week.
The study researchers estimate that, in their setting, a sedentary person who takes a very low number of daily steps but who was able to change behavior over five years to meet the popular 10,000 daily step guideline would have a threefold improvement in insulin sensitivity compared with a similar person who increased his or her steps to meet the more recent recommendation of 3,000 steps for 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 study concluded.
1. Dwyer T, Ponsonby A-L, Ukoumunne OC, et al. Association of change in daily step count over five years with insulin sensitivity and adiposity: population based cohort study. BMJ 2011; 342: c7249. (open access)