Simply increasing the number of steps taken per day can lower the chances for heart disease among individuals at high risk for type 2 diabetes, according to a study that involved more than 9,300 people in 40 countries.
In the study, researchers tracked physical activity of participants in a 2002–2004 program for individuals with impaired glucose tolerance and existing cardiovascular disease or at least 1 other cardiovascular risk factor. The researchers tracked steps-per-day for all participants for 1 year and continued to follow up to monitor cardiovascular events for 6 years.
The study found that when looking at steps-per-day averages over the study period, every 2,000-step increment reduced risk of heart disease by 10%. Additionally, researchers noted, risk fell an additional 8% for every 2,000 additional steps per day achieved by participants who increased their activity from baseline averages. The findings are reported in the December 20, 2013, edition of The Lancet (abstract only available for free).
Researchers also wrote that the positive effects could be observed regardless of body weight or starting level of activity.
APTA offers multiple resources for physical therapists interested in learning more about the role of physical therapy in the treatment of diabetes. Continuing education offerings include an introduction to type 2 diabetes and a discussion of physical therapy's perspective on prevention and management. The association also offers a pocket guide to physical fitness and type 2 diabetes (.pdf).
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