Walk this way

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Walking more could save your life.

You might think I’m being hyperbolic. But I’m not. I’m just pointing out the obvious takeaway of a new study from researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

From 2005 to 2010, they followed 1.2 million non-diabetic adults living in Ontario. They also mapped out residences, categorizing each subject based on their neighborhood’s walkability.

The most walkable communities are well populated, with interconnected streets and key destination (like stores, schools, and offices) within walking distance of homes. Not surprisingly, the least walkable areas are the opposite: sprawling and relatively isolated.

After five years, the researchers uncovered a 32 percent increase in diabetes risk among adults living in the least walking-friendly neighborhoods.

Is it because residents were walking less? The researchers can’t say for certain. But given what we already know about physical activity and diabetes prevention, it’s probably a pretty good bet.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to move house to beat diabetes. You just have to move.

“Walkable neighborhoods tied to lower diabetes risk,” Reuters. Sept. 25, 2012.