John Sets the Example of Using a Pedometer for Diabetes Health

Patient Expert

When I recently visited my friend John in Northern California for five days, I thought that we might take some walks.   But I hadn't counted on his new pedometer.

John and I both have type 2 diabetes and get out in nature a lot. But now that he wears a pedometer all the time, he hikes almost every day. And every day that we spent together we got out in the woods or on the beach. He took me on seven hikes, one that took us nine hours to finish.

John Hikes from the Skyline to the Sea

His pedometer motivates him to count his daily steps. The longest hike we took together measured 39,000 steps and took us well over 13 miles, many of them much more challenging that where I took the photograph above. I wrote about that great hike in "From the Skyline to the Sea" in my Fitness and Photography for Fun blog.

John told me that he knows that this helps him to keep his A1C level down to 6.0. An A1C test measures our average blood sugar during the preceding two or three months. Most labs consider a level of 6.0 or less to be normal.

Two studies of pedometers for people with diabetes

After I returned home to Colorado, I discovered two studies that show how using a pedometer can improve the health of people with type 2 diabetes:

One study, "Effectiveness of an aerobic walking program using heart rate monitor and pedometer on the parameters of diabetes control in Asian Indians with type 2 diabetes," in a 2010 issue of Primary Care Diabetes randomly assigned 40 adults with type 2 diabetes to either the study or the control group for 8 weeks. Fasting blood sugar levels "decreased significantly by 37 percent" in the study group. A1C levels went down and "general well-being" went up.

The other study, "Effect of progressive pedometer based walking intervention on quality of life and general well being among patients with type 2 diabetes," published last November in the Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders randomly assigned 102 adults with type 2 diabetes to one of three groups for 16 weeks. The authors concluded that, "the results of this study clearly imply that 30 to 40 minutes per day/session of moderate-intensity walking with pedometer is an effective method for the sedentary type 2 diabetes individuals to enhance quality of life."

John's example

John's example together with these two studies encouraged me to buy yet another pedometer. I must have lost half a dozen of them over the years. This time I got one that has a lanyard, and I also keep it in a pocket of my trousers where I am not even aware that it's there. It was no coincidence that I took a long hike the day after I set up my newest pedometer.

John was 82 in January (I'm only 79). A young lady who we passed on the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail said that she hopes that she is in as great a shape as he is when she gets older. If she keeps on hiking, she may well be. And you can too.

See more of my articles about how to manage diabetes:

Pedometer Prodding for Diabetes Management

10,000 Steps: Choosing a Pedometer

Using Pedometers to Help Manage Diabetes

Speed Walking Can Increase Diabetes Health Outcomes