elderly fitness

new study published in Diabetes Care has found that “intense regular walking”, or brisk walking as it is more commonly known, can help prevent Type II diabetes among 70 and 80-year-olds. 

Researchers concluded that for every 1000 steps per day, pensioners lower the risk of diabetes by six per cent. In other words, if you’re over 70 and walk further than you ordinarily would on an average day, you can significantly lower the risk of developing Type II diabetes.

Previous studies have concluded that regular walking can play a significant role in “preventing” diabetes. Not merely reducing the risk of developing diabetes, but preventing the condition. 

The latest study has shown that brisk walking will not totally prevent Type II diabetes but it does make the condition less likely. Of the 4,838 women that took part in the study only 395 (8%) developed diabetes.

How does brisk walking prevent diabetes? 

Although medical professionals don’t know the exact cause of diabetes, they do know that being overweight dramatically increases your risk of developing the condition. 

The excess fat that gathers around the abdomen can cause inflammation in cells which can lead to insulin resistance. If the body’s hormones cannot control blood sugar levels, your risk of developing Type I diabetes increases. 

It’s not always easy to identify Type I diabetes, but it is easy enough to prevent it in the first place; performing exercise alongside a controlled diet. 

Medical specialists that treat patients with diabetes say they often struggle to convince people to change their routines. Old habits are hard to break – which diminished the motivation to adopt new habits pretty quickly. 

However, encouraging patients to stick to a moderate-intensity exercise program did produce some positive results. The best results were found in patients that were asked to walk briskly for 11.5 miles a week. 

Medical professionals also concluded that moderate-intensity exercise burns fatter than glucose, whereas high-intensity exercise burns more glucose than fat. 

How to get started with a brisk walking program

Brisk walking is not an exercise you can or should throw yourself into no matter what your age is. If you’re over 70 and not as mobile as you used to be, or you carrying excess weight, you should approach brisk walking with a structured strategy

On day one, don’t brisk walk at all. Just walk as far as you can at a comfortable, but steady pace. Measure how far you are before you start feeling tired or out of breath. 

To measure the number of steps you take, download the sweatcoin app and take advantage of the built-in pedometer. 

Notice the response of your body. If you are aching too much to walk on day two, give yourself a day to allow your body to recover. 

The second time you go for a walk, start off walking slowly for five minutes to get your limbs warmed up. Then pick up the pace to the steady but comfortable pace you did on day one. 

When you feel ready, step up the pace again into a brisk walk. Basically, go as fast as you can. Do this for 20-30 seconds. Don’t push yourself. Then drop back down to your usual walking pace. 

Repeat this pattern for the rest of your exercise; slow, moderate, fast. This type of intermittent walking has been shown to help burn fat more quickly. It also means you won’t overexert yourself and burn up all your energy too early in your walk. 

Ideally, you should be aiming for a minimum number of steps each time you go out. Set yourself a goal that is within the step range you measured on day one. 

We recommend maintaining the same pattern of walking for five or six weeks. If you are feeling fitter and stronger, consider making your exercise routine more intense; by either throwing in more brisk walking spurts or covering a longer distance. 

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