Walking More Steps Daily Lowers Risk For Diabetes & Hypertension

A higher volume of steps per day in middle-aged adults lowered the risk for type 2 diabetes and stage 2 hypertension, according to data presented at the American Heart Association Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions.

“Steps are a simple metric to communicate with patients,” Amanda E. Paluch, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, told Healio. “Furthermore, it does not require a large increase in your steps/day to see benefits. Even an increase in 1,000 steps could have meaningful benefits to your cardiometabolic health. Steps can be accumulated however works best for the patients vs. in one single 'exercise' bout. Clinicians can encourage their patients to find opportunities to walk more throughout their typical day such as parking further away or taking the stairs more often.”

Researchers analyzed data from 1,923 participants (mean age, 45 years; 58% women) from the CARDIA study with available accelerometer data for at least 4 days and at least 10 hours per day in 2005-2006. Patients also attended at least one follow-up visit 5 or 10 years later.

During a mean follow-up of 9.7 years, every increase of 1,000 steps per day was linked to a 5% lower risk for hypertension and a 10% lower risk for diabetes after adjusting for lifestyle characteristics and demographics. Adding comorbidities to the model slightly attenuated this relationship, although it remained significant for diabetes (HR = 0.93; 95% CI, 0.87-0.99). 

Patients in the highest quartile had a 43% lower risk for diabetes and a 31% lower risk for hypertension compared with those in the lowest quartile. 

Researchers observed a significant interaction between sex and obesity when testing for interactions by sex or race. The number of steps was associated with obesity in women. Every 1,000-step increase per day was linked to a 13% lower risk for obesity. Patients in the highest quartile were 61% less likely to have obesity compared with the lowest quartile.

“More studies using device-based measures of steps looking at long-term health outcomes is needed to further advance our understanding on the importance of steps with health,” Paluch said in an interview. “Adding pedometers to new or existing trials is relatively affordable and easy to implement and can provide valuable data and is of high relevance given the booming wearable technology industry.” – by Darlene Dobkowski

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