Study reports surprising benefits of brisk walking for people with prediabetes

Jack Woodfield
Wed, 20 Jul 2016
Study reports surprising benefits of brisk walking for people with prediabetes
People with prediabetes could achieve better control of blood glucose levels by walking briskly on a regular basis, rather than vigorously jogging, according to a new study.

This new study was conducted by US researchers at Duke University School of Medicine, involving 150 participants who were diagnosed with elevated fasting glucose levels.

The participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups, and underwent different exercise regimens.

In the first group, which was modelled on the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), participants aimed to lose seven per cent of their body weight over six months. They performed moderate-intensity exercise equivalent to 7.5 miles of brisk walking in a week and ate a low-fat diet.

The second group performed a low amount of moderate intensity exercise (equal to 7.5 miles of brisk walking per week); the third did a high amount at moderate intensity (equal to 11.5 miles of brisk walking per week); and the fourth did a high amount at vigorous intensity exercise (burning off the same number of calories as the third group).

On average, the DDP group displayed the greatest benefit, achieving a nine per cent improvement in oral glucose tolerance. Conversely, only a two per cent average improvement was observed in the group who jogged.

While the calories burned by the two forms of exercise were the same, participants had to spend significantly more time exercising to achieve this. Therefore, jogging should not be seen as a poor choice.

Lead author Dr William Kraus said: "High-intensity exercise tends to burn glucose more than fat, while moderate-intensity exercise tends to burn fat more than glucose.

"We believe that one benefit of moderate-intensity exercise is that it burns off fat in the muscles, which relieves the block of glucose uptake by the muscles. That's important because muscle is the major place to store glucose after a meal."

Kraus and colleagues noted that while their findings could be beneficial for prediabetes patients, a diabetes outcome study would be required to assess if moderate-intensity exercise is more beneficial than high-intensity exercise at preventing the progression to diabetes.

The study was published online in the journal Diabetologia.
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