The risk of type 2 diabetes is lower in people partaking in brisk walks. The study found that brisk walking may actually be more effective at warding off type 2 diabetes than jogging.
Study author Dr. William Kraus said, “We know the benefits of lifestyle changes … but it is difficult to get patients to do even one behavior, not to mention three. When faced with the decision of trying to do weight loss, diet, and exercise versus exercise alone, the study indicates you can achieve nearly 80 percent of the effect of doing all three with just a high amount of moderate-intensity exercise.”
The study included 150 people with prediabetes divided into four groups. One group followed a gold-standard program that included a low-fat, low-calorie diet and moderate-intensity exercise equivalent to 7.5 miles of brisk walking a week.
The other groups were assigned to a regime of either low amount of exercise at moderate intensity equivalent to walking briskly for 7.5 miles a week, or high amount of exercise at moderate intensity equal to walking briskly for 11.5 miles weekly, or high amount of exercise at vigorous intensity equivalent to jogging for 11.5 miles a week.
After six months, those in the three-pronged approach saw a nine percent improvement in oral glucose tolerance. In the exercise groups, the moderate-intensity 11.5-mile group saw a seven-percent improvement, the moderate-intensity 7.5-mile group saw a five percent improvement, and the vigorous-intensity 11.5-mile group saw two percent improvement.
Coauthor Cris Slentz, said, “Another way to say it is that a high amount of moderate-intensity exercise alone provided nearly the same benefit on glucose tolerance that we see in the gold standard of fat and calorie restriction along with exercise.”
Dr. Kraus concluded, “We believe that one benefit of moderate-intensity exercise is that it burns off fat in the muscles. That’s important because muscle is the major place to store glucose after a meal.”