How Brisk Walking can save you from Type 2 Diabetes

Brisk Walking can save you from Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes glucose, the main source of energy for your cells. It occurs when your body either does not produce enough insulin, or becomes resistant to its effects, resulting in high blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, nerve damage, and vision loss1. According to the World Health Organization, more than 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, and 90% of them have type 2 diabetes.

The good news is that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by adopting a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular physical activity, a balanced diet, and maintaining a normal body weight. One of the simplest and most effective ways to achieve these goals is by walking briskly every day. In this article, we will explore how brisk walking can save you from type 2 diabetes, and provide some tips and guidelines on how to start and sustain this beneficial habit.

What is brisk walking?

Brisk walking is a moderate-intensity aerobic exercise that involves walking at a faster pace than normal, but not as fast as running or jogging. The speed of brisk walking can vary depending on your fitness level, age, and terrain, but a general guideline is to walk at a pace that makes you breathe harder and faster, but still allows you to talk comfortably. You can also use a pedometer, a smartphone app, or a fitness tracker to measure your walking speed and distance. A common target is to walk at least 3 miles per hour (mph) or 5 kilometers per hour (km/h), which is equivalent to 100 steps per minute.

How brisk walking can save you from type 2 diabetes

Brisk walking can save you from type 2 diabetes by improving your physical and metabolic health in several ways, such as:

  • Lowering your blood sugar: Brisk walking helps your muscles use glucose more efficiently, and reduces the amount of glucose that is released by your liver into your bloodstream. This lowers your blood sugar levels and improves your glycemic control, which is the key to preventing or managing type 2 diabetes.
  • Improving your insulin sensitivity: Brisk walking enhances your body’s ability to respond to insulin, the hormone that regulates your blood sugar levels4. This reduces your insulin resistance, which is the main cause of type 2 diabetes.
  • Reducing your body weight: Brisk walking burns calories and helps you lose excess body fat, especially around your abdomen, which is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. A study found that walking for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can help you lose up to 7 pounds (3.2 kg) in a year, without changing your diet.
  • Lowering your blood pressure: Brisk walking lowers your blood pressure by relaxing and widening your blood vessels, and strengthening your heart muscle. High blood pressure is a common complication of type 2 diabetes, and can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Improving your cholesterol levels: Brisk walking improves your lipid profile by increasing your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is the “good” cholesterol that protects your arteries from plaque buildup, and decreasing your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is the “bad” cholesterol that contributes to atherosclerosis. High cholesterol levels are associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Reducing your inflammation: Brisk walking reduces your inflammation by lowering the levels of cytokines, which are proteins that trigger an immune response and cause tissue damage. Chronic inflammation is linked to type 2 diabetes and its complications, such as nerve damage and kidney disease.
  • Enhancing your mood and mental health: Brisk walking boosts your mood and mental health by stimulating the release of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters that regulate your emotions, motivation, and pleasure . Brisk walking also reduces your stress and anxiety levels by lowering the levels of cortisol, which is a hormone that triggers the “fight-or-flight” response. Depression, stress, and anxiety are common psychological problems among people with type 2 diabetes, and can affect their self-care and quality of life.

How to start and sustain brisk walking

If you want to start and sustain brisk walking as a way to save yourself from type 2 diabetes, here are some tips and guidelines to follow:

  • Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially if you have any medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure, or if you are taking any medications that may affect your blood sugar levels or heart rate . Your doctor can advise you on the appropriate intensity, duration, and frequency of your walking sessions, and any precautions or adjustments you need to make.
  • Start slowly and gradually increase your speed, distance, and time. If you are new to walking or have been inactive for a long time, start with a short and easy walk of 10 to 15 minutes, at a comfortable pace, and do it at least three times a week. Gradually increase your speed, distance, and time by 10% each week, until you reach your goal of walking briskly for at least 30 minutes, five times a week. You can also break up your walking sessions into shorter bouts of 10 minutes or more, as long as they add up to 30 minutes or more per day .
  • Warm up and cool down. Before you start walking briskly, warm up for 5 to 10 minutes by walking slowly and doing some gentle stretches to loosen up your muscles and joints, and prepare your heart and lungs for the exercise. After you finish walking briskly, cool down for 5 to 10 minutes by walking slowly and doing some more stretches to relax your muscles and joints, and bring your heart rate and blood pressure back to normal.
  • Monitor your blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, it is important to monitor your blood sugar levels before, during, and after your walking sessions, to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). You may need to adjust your medication, food intake, or walking intensity, depending on your blood sugar readings. You should also carry a fast-acting carbohydrate, such as glucose tablets, juice, or candy, in case you experience symptoms of hypoglycemia, such as dizziness, sweating, or confusion.
  • Wear comfortable and appropriate shoes and clothing. You need to protect your feet and prevent blisters or sores, which can lead to infections and ulcers, especially if you have diabetes. Choose flat and flexible shoes that fit well and provide good support and cushioning. Avoid cotton socks and tube socks, and opt for athletic socks or diabetic socks made of sweat-wicking polyester fiber. Wear loose-fitting and breathable clothing that allows you to move freely and keeps you cool and dry. Dress in layers, and adjust your clothing according to the weather and temperature.
  • Choose a safe and enjoyable place to walk. You can walk indoors on a treadmill, or outdoors on a track, a trail, a sidewalk, or a park. Choose a place that is well-lit, well-maintained, and has minimal traffic or interruptions. You can also vary your walking routes and scenery to keep yourself motivated and interested.
  • Check your feet regularly. You may not feel blisters, hot spots, or injuries on your feet, which can develop into serious problems if not treated, especially if you have diabetes. Check your feet before and after each walk, and look for any signs of redness, swelling, pain, or infection. If you notice any problems, stop walking and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Make it fun and social. You can make your walking sessions more fun and social by listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks, or by joining a walking group, a walking club, or a walking buddy. You can also set yourself realistic and specific goals, such as walking a certain distance, time, or speed, and reward yourself for achieving them. You can also track your progress and improvement by using a pedometer, a smartphone app, or a fitness tracker.

Brisk walking is a simple and effective way to save yourself from type 2 diabetes, by improving your physical and metabolic health in various ways. By walking briskly for at least 30 minutes, five times a week, you can lower your blood sugar levels, improve your insulin sensitivity, reduce your body weight.

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