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Timed Walking Can Lower Risk for Diabetes in Seniors, Study

Update Date: Jun 12, 2013 02:07 PM EDT

Type II diabetes can lead to several health complications especially when the condition is not properly maintained, which is why preventing the onset of this disease is vital. According to a new study, there are nearly 79 million Americans who have prediabetes, which is a condition in which the individual has high blood sugar levels that do not quite make the cut to be considered diabetes. Preventing diabetes in this high-risk group could significantly lower the number of new diabetes cases. In this new study, researchers found that selectively timed walks post meals could be the key in keeping diabetes at bay for seniors.

The study conducted by researchers from George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) recruited 10 elderly participants who were all at least 60-years-old. The participants were all considered to be at risk for diabetes due to higher than normal amounts of fasting blood sugar and a low amount exercise. The researchers administered three random exercise routines that were spaced four weeks apart. The first day acted as the control day and the actual experiment started on the second day, in which some participants were instructed to walk for 15 minutes after each meal and the other participants were told to walk 45 minutes at either 10:30 in the morning or 4:30 in the afternoon. All walking was done on a treadmill with a set pace that was considered to be easy to moderate.

The group that walked for 15 minutes after each meal over the span of 24-hours, which occurred three times a day, had lower blood sugar levels. This finding suggests that these walks, when timed effectively, could decrease the risk of developing type II diabetes in seniors.

"These findings are good news for people in their 70s and 80s who may feel more capable of engaging in intermittent physical activity on a daily basis, especially if the short walks can be combined with running errands or walking the dog," said lead study author Loretta DiPietro, PhD, MPH. DiPietro is the chair of the SPHHS Department of Exercise Science. "The muscle contractions connected with short walks were immediately effective in blunting the potentially damaging elevations in post-meal blood sugar commonly observed in older people."

The researchers hope that after more research, this type of exercise could be used more effectively in preventing type II diabetes. The study was published in Diabetes Care

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