Walking shown to reduce diabetes risk

American Diabetes Month puts spotlight on need for exercise

November’s American Diabetes Month has brought to light some disheartening statistics about America’s health. Of the more than 17 million Americans afflicted with diabetes, more than 90 percent suffer from the type 2 form of the disease, which is highly associated with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Researchers have found that being overweight can interfere with the body’s ability to properly use insulin, leading to the development of this potentially deadly disease.

Despite soaring diabetes rates, there is an important step that people can take to lower their risk of developing the disease: exercise. According to Andrew Flach, author of Walk The Weight Away! (Healthy Living Books, 2003), an eight-week workbook-based walking program, walking is the perfect form of exercise for people worried about their risk of developing diabetes. He points out an article in the Oct. 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, that states that physical activity can reduce the risk of developing diabetes, regardless of a person’s weight.

Subjects in the study who started a routine of brisk walking for 30 minutes a day were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who were sedentary. “This report reinforces the need for people to get

moving,” says Flach. “They mention walking specifically because it’s one of the easiest forms of exercise around—we’ve been walking since we were small.”

Flach points out some other reasons why walking might be right for those at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. “Many people who know that they need to get in shape and lose some weight are afraid to join a gym—they’re embarrassed about their physical condition. The great thing about walking is that you can do it anywhere. You don’t need to join a gym or buy expensive equipment. You can walk alone or with like-minded friends.”

He goes on to offer this tip for people who want to start walking for health: “The best way to get started and stay motivated is to join a walking group. Get some friends together, or check at a local church or community center for existing groups. Chances are, there will be plenty of people in your community with similar concerns.”

Flach is certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE). An expert on weight management and exercise, his work has been featured on National Public Radio and in hundreds of newspapers across the country. He is the co-author of Combat Fat! and other popular titles on diet and exercise.

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