New evidence on activity reducing disease risk

Two studies, published today, have researched the impact of both walking and sedentary time on the risk of diabetes and on the health of women.

A team from Semnan University of Medical Sciences in Iran looked at a relationship between walking speed and chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

They explain in the British Journal of Sports Medicine today that frequent walking is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, but it is not clear what walking speed is needed to reduce the risk.

Dr Ahmad Jayedi and colleagues analysed ten previous studies and found that, compared with easy/casual walking (less than 3.2 km/hour), the risk of type 2 diabetes was 15% lower for average/normal walking (3.2 to 4.8 km/hour).

Diabetes risk was 24% lower for fairly brisk walking (4.8 to 6.4 km/hour) and 39% lower for brisk/striding walking (over 6.4 km/hour).

“The risk of type 2 diabetes decreased significantly at a walking speed of 4 km/h and above,” they conclude.

In the second study, Dr Qiong Meng of Kunming Medical University, China, and colleagues examined the health risks of greater sedentary time.

They used figures on 6,623 pre-menopausal women from a long-term multi-ethnic cohort study in southwest China, and focused on the risk of uterine fibroids which can cause bleeding, pain and infertility.

Among the women, 8.5% had uterine fibroids. Analysis showed the risk rose with age, but also with sedentary time. In particular, leisure time of six or more hours a day was associated with a doubling in risk compared with fewer than two hours.

The researchers suggest that the link may be due to obesity – a risk factor for uterine fibroids – or a rise in oestrogen levels caused by both sedentary behaviour and obesity.

Jayedi, A. et al. Walking speed and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine 29 November 2023; doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2023-107336


Meng, Q. et al. Association between leisure sedentary behaviour and uterine fibroids in non menopausal women: a population based study. BMJ Open 29 November 2023; doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-073592


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