- A faster walking speed is linked to lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, per a new study.
- Researchers found a speed of 3.7 miles per hour was linked to nearly 40% lower risk.
- Other evidence has found walking can help you live longer and feel younger, too.
It’s no secret that regular walking is good for your health, but picking up the pace on your next trek could have even more benefits, new research suggests.
Walking at a brisk pace is linked to significantly lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a study published November 28 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Researchers from Semnan University in Iran and Imperial College London in the UK looked at data from 10 different studies including a total of more than 500,000 participants from the US, UK, and Japan. They compared participants’ walking speed with their odds of developing type 2 diabetes over an average of 8 years.
The researchers found that people who had an average walking pace (which they defined as two to three miles per hour) had a 15% lower risk of diabetes than peers who had a more casual strolling pace of less than two miles an hour. The benefit was clear regardless of how much people walked (or exercised) overall, according to the data.
The results also suggested that the faster the pace, the more benefits people seemed to experience. The researchers found that people with the fastest walking speed of more than 3.7 miles an hour had a 39% lower chance of developing diabetes.
That pace is just over 16 minutes per mile, and well within what the CDC counts as moderate activity (up to 4.5 miles per hour).
As a result, it’s worth not only getting your steps in, but also thinking about how fast you move, the researchers concluded — and previous evidence supports a quicker pace to maximize the health benefits.
Pick up the pace — walking at a speed about about 16 minutes per mile may boost the benefits.
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Walking is great for your health, regardless of speed
The findings of the most recent study are observational, which means they don’t directly show that walking faster can cause a lower risk of diabetes. Other factors likely play a role, such as the fact that healthier people, and those who exercise more often, are more likely to sustain a brisk walking pace.
Previous research also supports the idea that walking faster is a good predictor of health. A 2022 study suggests that a brisk walking pace is linked to fewer markers of aging, potentially helping you feel up to 16 years younger in terms of “biological age” by midlife.
However, you don’t need to turn every stroll into a sprint to get healthier. A wealth of evidence also suggests that walking is great for your health no matter what pace you choose. The best approach is to just get started, since adding as little as 500 steps or 11 minutes of exercise per day can help. From there, you can gradually build up over time to continue reaping the benefits, cardiologist Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum previously told Insider.
“Doing something is better than doing nothing,” she said.