Even modest activity produces benefits, a new study suggests

By Natasha Persaud

You desire to live healthier and prevent full-blown diabetes, but walking 10,000 steps a day (about 5 miles)—a general guideline for health—just seems impossible. Good news: A new Diabetes Care study suggests that the threshold for staving off diabetes might be closer to 3,500 steps.

Walk Image - Masterfile

Over a 5-year period, study participants who took at least 3,500 steps each day had a 29 percent lower chance of developing diabetes compared with more sedentary participants who walked fewer steps.

That means, if you're striving to walk every day, your current efforts might be paying off. If you're sitting at home feeling defeated, on the other hand, let the news add pep to your step!

For this study, researchers examined the activity levels of 1,826 American Indians from The Strong Heart Family Study on cardiovascular health. Nearly 10 percent of the participants had prediabetes.

Having a higher body mass index or BMI appeared to diminish some of the benefit for reasons that remain unclear.

The bottom line: Strap on a pedometer (step counter), lace up your sneakers, and go for a walk!


Fretts, et al. "Modest Levels of Physical Activity Are Associated With a Lower Incidence of Diabetes in a Population With a High Rate of Obesity." Diabetes Care, published online June 20, 2012.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 10 Jul 2012

Last Modified: 11 Sep 2015