Walking May Decrease Heart Attack and Stroke Risk in People with Prediabetes

Research suggests walking may reduce the chances of heart attack and stroke in people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes

man walking at sunset with dog

Updated on March 26, 2024.

A study published in the journal The Lancet found that for people at high risk of type 2 diabetes, walking more may decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke.

In the study, over 9,000 adults who had risk factors for prediabetes (high blood sugar levels that are not yet high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes) and heart disease were enrolled in programs designed to increase physical activity. Each participant’s average daily number of steps was measured at the start of the program and then again one year later.

After analyzing the data, researchers found that, compared to steps taken at the start of the study, taking 2,000 additional steps per day (roughly 20 minutes of walking), was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of heart attack and stroke. For every additional 2,000 steps taken per day beyond that, the risk fell another 8 percent.

Participants benefitted from taking additional steps no matter their weight or how much they walked at the beginning of the study.

More Reasons to Get Moving

Meaningful changes can make big differences when it comes to your health. In addition to protecting your heart, walking may also:

  • Decrease belly fat. Aerobic activities like walking, swimming or riding a bike help to burn calories and decrease abdominal fat – which is associated with inflammation, diabetes and heart disease.
  • Keep you younger. Walking can increase your energy, help prevent illness, and lower stress levels. 
  • Help you sleep better. Research suggests that people who walk, especially at a brisk pace, may sleep better.
  • Improve thinking and memory. Walking helps to nourish brain tissue and promotes connections between neurons (nerve cells in the brain), which may help improve thinking and memory as you age.

Tips to Get Motivated

 Try these tips that may help motivate you to get moving:

  • Track your steps. Tracking your steps can help you see the progress you’re making and keep you motivated to continue moving.
  • Walk with a friend. Walking with a friend can help keep your commitment to moving, make you accountable to someone else, and increase your enjoyment. If friends are not available, try walking with your dog or listening to a podcast. 
  • Treat yourself. Set an attainable goal for yourself – say, 30 minutes a day for a week – and when you reach it, treat yourself while supporting your health goals, like talking on the phone with a friend or watching a movie on TV.

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