Lowering your diabetes risk may be as easy as walking to work, Japanese researchers have found.
Regular exercise, such as brisk walking, is one way to cut the risk of type 2 diabetes, a disease closely associated with obesity. But it has been unclear whether light exercise - like a leisurely paced walk to work - has the same benefit, according to the authors of the new study.
To find out, the researchers used data from an ongoing health study of middle-aged Japanese men working for the same large employer. They focused on nearly 8 600 men who had normal blood sugar levels at the study's outset and were followed for four years afterward.
More walking, lower risk
In general, the study found, the more walking the men did to get to work, the lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes over the next four years.
Men who said their walk took at least 21 minutes were one-quarter less likely to develop diabetes than their co-workers who walked for 10 minutes or less.
Dr Kyoko Kogawa Sato and colleagues at Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine report the findings in the journal Diabetes Care.
All of the men, the researchers note, had sedentary jobs and came from similar educational and socio-economic backgrounds - making it unlikely that these factors explain the reduced diabetes risk among walkers.
Regular walking may directly lower diabetes risk by improving the body's sensitivity to insulin, according to Sato's team. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes develops when body cells become less responsive to the actions of insulin.
The findings, according to the researchers, suggest that even a walk to work, if it's long enough, can help thwart diabetes.
SOURCE: Diabetes Care, September 2007. – (Reuters Health)