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Diabetics can "pick up the pace" to improve health

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, July 6 (Reuters) A small study of overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes shows that people can get more out of their daily walks by picking up the pace.

Among eight adults with type 2 diabetes already walking a little more than the recommended 10,000 steps per day, a ''Pick Up the Pace'' program increased walking speeds, and therefore intensity of walking, to a level that elicited significant improvements in heart and respiratory fitness over 12 weeks.

''The program used simple tools (pedometer and stopwatch) and a simple message to pick up the pace,'' note Steven T. Johnson of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and colleagues in the journal Diabetes Care.

In the study, participants determined their normal walking pace by counting steps taken in a 10-minute walk using a pedometer. This information was used to establish a ''training cadence'' that was 10 percent above their usual pace.

For example, if someone usually walked 90 steps in a minute, they increased the pace to 100 steps per minute. They walked at their training pace for 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week for 12 weeks.

The Pick Up the Pace program led to significant improvements in subject's heart rate response to exercise and decreases in their blood sugar levels.

In a prior study, Johnson and colleagues found that individuals with type 2 diabetes naturally walk at a speed that is slower than that associated with the minimal intensity needed to derive health benefits, despite increasing the number of steps taken in a day.

''The main finding of this study,'' they say, ''is that a pedometer and a stopwatch can...facilitate increased walking intensity'' for people with type 2 diabetes, leading to health benefits.


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