New research from Australia sheds an intriguing light on how we slow down as we get older – and the benefits of resisting the temptation to take it easy.
Researchers working on a major investigation called the AusDiab Study, studied 592 adults in Tasmania who were all overweight or obese, but did not have type 2 diabetes. Their average age at the outset was 51 for men and 50 for women. All the participants were given a pedometer (step counter) to use over two days in 2000, and vital statistics such as their body mass index (BMI) and their sensitivity to insulin were recorded. This is important because people who develop type 2 diabetes become resistant to insulin over time. Five years later, in 2005, the study was repeated and the results compared.
Step it up
In 2005, 65% of the participants were taking fewer steps per day than in 2000, but 35% were more active. Among those who were more active, the researchers found that there was a strong link between additional steps taken each day, and a lower BMI, lower waist-to-hip ratio and better insulin sensitivity. This was shown independently of whether participants smoked, or their diet.
The researchers say the findings are significant because it is the first study that has isolated the effect of independently verified physical exercise on these measures of type 2 diabetes risk.
Every little helps
Walking 10,000 steps a day is about five miles, which might sound like a tall order. But every additional 1,000 steps taken by people in the study showed benefits – and this latest research just adds to the evidence on the positive effects of exercise, both in preventing and managing type 2 diabetes. Click here for 15 more healthy reasons to head outdoors!