How 10K steps for patients reduces diabetes risk by 44%, boosted by wearable health solutions
Can you “walk away” from diabetes? Perhaps. A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that adding steps to the day could help women patients avoid Type 2 diabetes. This exercise can be boosted by encouraging wearable health solutions such as health-measuring bracelets or rings that can create closer relationships between doctors and patients.
And women aren’t the only ones who are at risk of developing this disease. Approximately 37 million Americans have diabetes, with a whopping 90% of those diagnosed having Type 2 diabetes.
The data of diabetes
Type 2 diabetes can occur when your cells do not properly absorb insulin — called insulin resistance –and your pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to encourage your cells to respond. Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult-onset diabetes, is most often seen in older persons, but can present in younger patients as well, and is on a rapidly-increasing upward trend in younger people in the U.S.
The study used data from wearable health solutions linked to the health records from 2010-21 of more than 5,600 participants. About 75% of the participants were female. Researchers discovered that any intense physical activity can reduce a participant’s risk of Type 2 diabetes. Participants who logged a step count of more than 10,000 steps were 44% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, compared with those participants who logged 6,000 steps.
Walking off Type 2
The results contribute to growing evidence that walking is beneficial to overall health for patients and can lower the risk of diabetes. According to the Mayo Clinic, a daily walk can:
- Help prevent other health conditions besides Type 2 diabetes, such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease
- Help lose weight and/or reduce body mass index, or BMI
- Help prevent bone loss
- Strengthen bones and muscles
- Strengthen the immune system
- Improve cardiovascular function
- Increase stamina
- Increase energy
- Improve sleep and reduce stress
- Increase brain function and cognition
The more patients can take every day, the better. Starting out with an average pace is best when beginning a walking plan, and working up to a faster pace and a greater distance. Interval training can help as well, by including short bursts of fast or power walking to the routine as well as jogging or running for short distances. Work up to 30 minutes per day, or break up the time into smaller time frames, such as 10 minutes in the morning, afternoon, and evening.
Wearable health solutions for at-risk patients
For many people now working from home — putting in long hours while juggling the important tasks of family or other responsibilities — wearable health solutions are becoming more popular.
Insider Intelligence reports that in the last four years, consumer use of wearables increased from 9% to 33%. Clinicians and practitioners can benefit from these products through remote monitoring, which could help support patients outside the office setting, reduce overall cost for the patient while building relations with health care providers, and improve health outcomes.
In a related 2021 study, 63% of Americans using wearable health solutions utilized fitness trackers or smart watches. These products can track blood pressure and heart rate as well as the number of daily steps, helping to pinpoint issues or spot early signs or symptoms of disease including Type 2 diabetes.
Practitioners can discuss the benefits of health care wearables with clients and create a plan of action to incorporate a walking plan combined with regular office visits.