Increase of just 2,000 steps a day cuts cardiovascular risk by 8 percent in those with high risk of type 2 diabetes

December 19, 2013

A large international study of people with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT; a precursor to diabetes) has found that every additional 2000 steps taken a day over one year—roughly equivalent to 20 min a day of moderately-paced walking—reduces the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke by 8 percent.

"People with IGT have a greatly increased risk of cardiovascular disease", explains study leader Dr Thomas Yates from the University of Leicester in the UK in The Lancet. "While several studies have suggested that physical activity is beneficially linked to health in those with IGT, this is the first study to specifically quantify the extent to which change in walking behaviour can modify the risk of , stroke, and cardiovascular-related deaths."

IGT affects about 7.9% of the adult population (344 million people worldwide), and this number is projected to increase to 472 million (8.4%) by 2030.

Data on 9306 adults from 40 countries with IGT and cardiovascular disease or at least one cardiovascular risk factor were taken from the NAVIGATOR trial. All participants received a lifestyle modification programme aimed at reducing body weight and dietary fat intake while increasing physical activity to 150min a week. Using a pedometer, researchers recorded usual walking activity (average number of steps taken per day) over a week both at the start of the study and again 12 months later.

Statistical modelling was used to test the relationship between the number of steps taken per day and the risk of subsequent cardiovascular disease after adjusting for a wide range of confounding factors such as body-mass index, smoking status, diet, clinical history, and medication use. 531 were recorded during 45 211 person-years of follow-up.

Both levels of walking activity at the start of the study and change in walking activity over 12 months had a graded inverse association with subsequent risk of cardiovascular disease.

Specifically, for every 2000 steps per day difference in walking activity at the start of the study there was a 10% difference in the risk of cardiovascular disease in subsequent years. On top of this, the risk of cardiovascular disease was further modified by 8% for every 2000 steps per day that walking activity changed between the start of the study and 12 months later.

For example, if subject A took 4000 steps per day at the start of the study and did not change their activity levels over the next 12 months, and subject B took 6000 steps per day at the start of the study and increased their activity levels to 8000 steps per day over the next 12 months, by the end of the study (other things being equal) subject B would have an 18% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

According to Dr Yates, "Our results provide novel evidence that changing physical through simply increasing the number of taken can substantially reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, such as and stroke. Importantly, these benefits are seen regardless of bodyweight status or the starting level of activity. These novel findings provide the strongest evidence yet for the importance of physical activity in high risk populations and will inform diabetes and prevention programmes worldwide."

Writing in a linked Comment, Giuseppe Pugliese and Stefano Balducci from La Sapienza University in Rome, Italy say, "We believe that the NAVIGATOR trial adds compelling and reassuring evidence for the benefits of physical activity on cardiovascular health, although further observational and intervention studies with rigorous and objective assessment of and fitness are needed."

Explore further: Cardiovascular complications of type 2 diabetes associated with levels of physical activity

More information: … (13)62061-9/abstract

Related Stories

Cardiovascular complications of type 2 diabetes associated with levels of physical activity

November 13, 2013
The risk of cardiovascular complications in people with type 2 diabetes is directly related to the frequency and duration of physical exercise, according to results of a large follow-up study reported today on World Diabetes ...

South Asians need to exercise for 20 minutes longer per day than Europeans

December 12, 2013
New research has suggested men of South Asian origin may need to exercise for approximately 20 minutes a day longer than their Europeans counterparts.

Heart health danger highlighted as global survey finds one in four people report not knowing how much they walk each day

September 25, 2013
More than a quarter of people who took part in a new multi-country survey said they did not know how much time they spent briskly walking at a speed faster than normal. As the World Health Organization reports that global ...

Pets may help reduce your risk of heart disease

May 9, 2013
Having a pet might lower your risk of heart disease, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement.

Daily steps add up for midlife women's health

November 21, 2012
Moving 6,000 or more steps a day—no matter how—adds up to a healthier life for midlife women. That level of physical activity decreases the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome (a diabetes precursor and a risk for ...

UK cardiovascular risk reduction study recognized by American Heart Association

December 17, 2013
Self-care interventions that overcome environmental and personal barriers to reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors could be successful in rural, socioeconomically disadvantaged areas of the country and possibly other ...

Recommended for you

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit

July 26, 2017
People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn't, a new study found.

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.