Health Walk down stairs to prevent diabetes

Walk down stairs to prevent diabetes

Reducing your chances of developing diabetes could be as easy as walking down stairs, according to new research from Edith Cowan University.

The researchers, from ECU’s School of Medical and Health Sciences, conducted a 12-week exercise program for which they recruited 30 obese elderly women. Half of the women walked up stairs and the other half walked down stairs.

Lead researcher Professor Ken Nosaka said that at the end of the 12-week program, the women who walked downstairs showed the most improvement.

They had significantly lower levels of resting glucose and other danger signs of diabetes, and an increase of good cholesterol in their blood.

“While both groups recorded an improvement, it was significantly greater in the down stairs group,” Professor Nosaka said.

Professor Nosaka said the greater improvement in the downstairs group is almost certainly because walking down stairs is classified as eccentric exercise.

“Eccentric exercise is where load is placed on the muscle while it is lengthening, rather than shortening. For example, walking down stairs is eccentric exercise because your front thigh muscles are lengthening when they are placed under load, as opposed to walking up stairs in which the muscles are shortening, performing mainly concentric contractions.”

As well as protecting against diabetes, the researchers also found that the down stairs group’s physical function such as walking ability, balance, bone mineral density, resting heart rate and blood pressure all improved significantly more than the up stairs group.

“This is yet more evidence that not all exercise is created equal in terms of its health benefits,” Professor Nosaka said.

With more than one million Australians currently living with diabetes and the number expected to rise to three million in 20 years, the findings have the potential to significantly reduce the burden of the deadly disease.

Read more about this intriguing study here. Story credit: Edith Cowan University newsroom.

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