A cost-effective way to lower blood sugar and insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes may be a prescription for walking an extra 1,200 steps per day.

A Canadian study at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center (RI-MUHC) indicates that a doctor-prescribed step-count, coupled with the use of a pedometer, can motivate a person to take 20 percent more steps daily. The resulting health benefits include better insulin and glucose numbers for patients managing type 2 diabetes.

Although regular walking routines could, over a ten-year span, generate a 40 percent drop in vascular problems and mortality for individuals with diabetes, physical activity levels remain generally low.

"As physicians, we have to face reality and admit that for many patients, just telling them to be more physically active simply doesn't work," said researcher Dr. Kaberi Dasgupta, RI-MUHC. "A lot of people want to be active, but it is very difficult to change health behaviors. The idea in this study is to use step counts almost as a medication."

Because human physical activity is frequently scattered throughout the day, step-counting is easier to measure than distance covered, especially with people who do not have a set exercise regimen, or do not go to a gym. With this in mind, the researchers gave some of the 364 study participants a written step-count prescription, and a pedometer to monitor their steps. All study participants continued their usual medical routines.

After 12 months, the patients on step-count prescriptions averaged 1,200 more steps per day, and those with type 2 diabetes showed improved insulin resistance, and lowered their blood sugar levels.

Dr. Dasgupta and colleagues will now work to have prescribed physical activity “aligned and integrated in the medical routine and added to health guidelines.” Their study was published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism.

 

Source: Science Daily

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