Regular brisk walking could benefit those with prediabetes

Tue, 26 Jul 2016
Regular brisk walking could benefit those with prediabetes
New research has suggested that regularly walking briskly, rather than jogging vigorously, can help people with prediabetes to control their blood glucose levels better.

American researchers at the Duke University School of Medicine conducted a study which involved 150 participants. They had all been diagnosed with elevated fasting glucose levels (prediabetes), and were assigned to one of four groups, which all underwent different exercise regimes.

One group was modelled on the Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP), with the participant's aim being to lose 7 per cent of their body weight over six months. Participants ate a low-fat diet and took part in moderate-intensity exercise, which was equivalent to 7.5 miles of brisk walking each week.

The second group took part in a low amount of moderate-intensity exercise, which was equal to 7.5 miles of brisk walking each week.

The third group took part in a high amount of moderate-intensity exercise, equal to 11.5 miles of brisk walking each week.

The last group took part in a high amount of vigorous-intensity exercise, equal to 11.5 miles of jogging each week, and burnt the same number of calories as the third group.

The first group showed the greatest benefit on average, as the DDP helped participants' oral glucose tolerance improve by 9 per cent. For the group who jogged, this figure was just 2 per cent. However, this doesn't mean that jogging should be discounted as a form of exercise. The groups burnt the same number of calories, but it took longer when the exercise was walking, rather than jogging.

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

"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."

While the study indicated that moderate-intensity exercise could help people gain control of their blood glucose levels, more research would be needed to see if it has a greater effect at preventing diabetes from developing than high-intensity exercise does.

The study was published in Diabetologia.