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Increasing physical activity to 10,000 steps per day resulted in improved glucose tolerance and lower blood pressure for overweight women at risk for type 2 diabetes.

The results of a recent University of Tennessee study are reported in the October issue of the journal Preventive Medicine.

Eighteen previously inactive, overweight women aged 40-65 with a family history of type 2 diabetes participated in a four-week control period, followed by an eight-week walking program. They did not restrict their caloric intake or otherwise change their diets, but set a goal of walking 10,000 steps per day, measured by a pedometer.

During the control period, the women walked 4,972 steps a day. They increased the walking to 9,213 steps per day during the intervention period. Glucose levels and blood pressure were checked at the beginning of the study, after the control period, and at the end of the intervention period.

Significant improvement both in glucose tolerance levels and in blood pressure readings were noted at the conclusion of the eight-week walking program, despite the fact that the participants did not change their diets or lose weight.

-Increased glucose tolerance is good news for anyone at risk for diabetes,- said Dr. Dixie Thompson, associate professor of exercise science, who directed the study. -While previous research has documented the blood pressure reduction benefits of the 10,000 steps a day intervention, this is the first study to target women at risk for type 2 diabetes.-

Another encouraging finding was the connection between a specific, easy to perform physical activity and the increase in daily activity among the participants.

-The women in the study increased their physical activity levels by 85 percent,- Thompson noted. -They found that the additional exercise was manageable and something they could incorporate into their daily lives.-

Thompson said this is hopeful news for people at risk for diabetes.

-Our subjects were pre-diabetic women with a high risk of developing diabetes if they didn-t take some action. The results of this study indicate that walking can make a real difference in the way their bodies respond to glucose.-