Higher levels of easy-to-highly energetic physical activity have been linked with lower risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Less is known about how daily step counts (steps per day) are associated with T2D risk. Daily step counts are a simple measure of physical activity that are easy to understand and track. Daily step counts have become more familiar to the public with the increase in wearable devices (fitness trackers worn on the body). Recent research hints that taking more steps per day is related to lower risk of early death. However, data are limited on how daily steps counts are related to T2D risk.
The intensity of steps can be described as light, moderate, or vigorous activity. Step rate is an indirect measure of walking intensity. A rate higher than 100 steps per minute is considered moderately-intense activity or greater. We know that there is a lower risk of T2D with taking more steps/day. However, it is unclear how applicable this is to Hispanics/Latinos who have high rates of diabetes and high step counts due to the physical demands of their jobs.
Number and intensity of steps make sense
In a new study including 6634 Hispanic/Latino adults, researchers looked at the association between steps per day, step intensity (measured using a wearable fitness tracker), and long-term risk of T2D. Participants had an average rate of 8164 steps per day and spent 12 min per day in quick and energetic walking (more than 100 steps per min). Over a 6-year follow-up, there were 1115 new cases of T2D and a lower risk of diabetes with more steps per day (2% lower risk per 1000 steps per day). Adults who walked at a fast pace for 17 minutes per day had a 31% lower risk of diabetes than those who walked with the same intensity for under 2 minutes per day.
Among Hispanic/Latino adults, taking more steps per day and spending more time walking at a faster rate lowers the risk of developing T2D.
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