Number of Steps per Day Needed to Prevent Death in Diabetes

Walking 10,000 steps per day may reduce the risk of death for those who have trouble regulating their blood sugar, according to the findings from a new study of almost 1,700 American adults with prediabetes or diabetes.

Researchers from the University of Seville, Spain, evaluated U.S. adults with prediabetes and diabetes using data from the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, collected between 2005 and 2006.

The findings were published this month in Diabetes Care.

Of the total, 1,194 adults had prediabetes, and 493 had diabetes. People with diabetes in the study were diagnosed by a doctor or had a fasting blood glucose level higher than 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). People with prediabetes in the study were also diagnosed by a doctor or had a fasting glucose level from 100 to 125 mg/dL.

Over half (56%) of prediabetic adults were male (average age 55 years), and they took an average of 8,500 steps per day. Half (51%) of the diabetic adults were also male (average age 61 years), and they took fewer steps per day – about 6,300.

The people in the study wore an accelerometer on their waist to count their steps for 7 consecutive days. The researchers adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, smoking, alcohol use, diet, and use of diabetes medications.

Over 9 years, 200 people with prediabetes and 138 with diabetes died. Based on those who survived after follow-up, walking nearly 10,000 steps per day was best for reducing the risk of death from any cause for people with prediabetes and diabetes.

But about 20% of people in the study were removed from the analysis because they had invalid accelerometry data. Adults who are healthy enough to walk 10,000 steps may have different rates of death from those who aren’t, according to the study authors, who called for more research to compare these two groups.

If 10,000 steps seem like a daunting task, talking to a doctor about finding a routine that works for your physical ability could be helpful, the study authors suggest.


Diabetes Care: “Optimal Number of Steps per Day to Prevent All-Cause Mortality in People With Prediabetes and Diabetes.”

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