Walk a Mile In Your Shoes
People with impaired glucose tolerance can significantly lower their risk of cardiovascular disease by walking an additional 2000 steps daily. That’s the conclusion of a massive international study that included nearly 10,000 patients from 40 countries.
The subjects were older people who had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. They were followed for about six years and their activity levels were monitored. The study basically asked the question: Can walking help lower the chance that a person at high risk for heart attack or stroke will suffer one of these potentially life-threatening events?
Subjects had “impaired glucose handling,” which means they were on track to develop full-blown diabetes, but did not yet require medication to treat the condition. This “prediabetes” is usually linked to inactivity and/or obesity and poor diet. Having impaired glucose tolerance dramatically increases a person’s risk of developing serious cardiovascular disease.
Many previous studies have indicated that physical activity improves the health of patients at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. But this study claims to be the first to nail down specific reductions in risk linked to walking or inactivity. Not only did daily walking reduce risk, people who became less active experienced an equally greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Most people can take 2,000 additional steps in a day by walking for just 20 minutes. Doing so can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke in high risk people by about 8%. There are presently believed to be about 79 million Americans affected by the condition and 344 million people worldwide with impaired glucose handling. So, once again, research has confirmed what I’ve been saying for years: get up and get moving!
Yates, T, et al. Association between change in daily ambulatory activity and cardiovascular events in people with impaired glucose tolerance (NAVIGATOR trial): a cohort analysis. The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 20 December 2013 doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62061-9