How Much Walking Is Best for Diabetes Control?

Improve Insulin Control and Health Markers with Walking

Walking Workout in the City
Walking Workout in the City. Jim Cummins/The Image Bank/Getty

Exercise and walking are excellent tools for controlling Type II diabetes and improving health for people with diabetes. A study published in June, 2005 measured how much walking is needed to produce the best effects.

38 Minutes or 4400 Steps a Day for Diabetes

Walking or doing other aerobic exercise for 38 minutes - about 2.2 miles or 4400 steps - showed a significant effect for those with diabetes, even if they didn't lose weight.

They improved their hemoglobin A1C by 0.4%, reduced their risk of heart disease, and improved their cholesterol and triglyceride levels. They saved $288 a year in health care costs.

10,000 Steps per Day for Better Diabetes Control

Walkers who logged 10,000 steps per day - almost 90 minutes or 5 miles - saw the biggest benefit. The number of walkers with diabetes who needed insulin therapy dropped by 25%, and those on insuling therapy reduced their dosage by an average 11 units per day. They had great improvement in hemoglobin A1C levels of 1.1%, improved cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and reduced risk of heart disease. They reduced their medical costs by over $1200 per year.

Stay on the Couch - Get Sick and Lose Money

Those who didn't walk saw their health care costs go up by over $500 in the two-year study period. Their insulin use went up, as did cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. There is a huge cost in failing to walk and exercise, especially for those with diabetes.

More: Health Risks of Sitting

It's Not Too Late to Take the First Step

Exercise and walking have also been shown to reduce the risks of developing type II diabetes. Whether you have diabetes or not, it is never too soon or too late to begin a walking or exercise program.

  • Quick Start 30-Day Walking Plan: This 30-day plan coaches you to go from zero to 30 minutes a day of walking. It is designed for beginners and you will build up from just 10 or 15 minutes of walking. By the end you'll be able to enjoy a 30-minute walking workout for diabetes control.
  • 10 Tips for Walking With Diabetes: You will need to take care of your feet and wear the right shoes as well as managing energy snacks. Here are tips for walkers who have diabetes.
  • How to Walk for Weight Control: Losing excess weight is recommended for people with diabetes. Here is how to make walking part of your weight loss plan. Learn how many calories walking burns and the importance of brisk walking and managing your diet to lose weight.
  • Treadmill Weight Loss Walking Plan: Turn your treadmill into a calorie-burning machine. Use these workouts for variety, challenging your body in different ways throughout the week. You'll build fitness and burn fat to lose weight.


Chiara Di Loreto, MD, Carmine Fanelli, MD, "Make Your Diabetic Patients Walk: Long-term impact of different amounts of physical activity on type 2 diabetes," Diabetes Care 28:1295-1302, 2005

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