People with pre-diabetes could significantly reduce their risk of having a heart attack or stroke by walking for an extra 20 minutes a day for a year, according to a study published in The Lancet. An international team of researchers analyzed data from the NAVIGATOR trial involving 9,306 people in 40 countries with impaired glucose tolerance, or pre-diabetes. Participants were given a lifestyle change program aimed at helping them lose weight and cut fat intake while increasing physical activity to 150 minutes a week.

(Many people with diabetes still lose vision, despite availability of vision-sparing treatment)

The researchers used pedometers to measure walking the activity of study participants. After adjusting for a wide range of confounding factors including body mass index, smoking, diet and use of medication, the researchers used statistical modeling to test the relationship between the number of steps taken a day and the risk of subsequent heart disease. The investigators found that for every additional 2,000 steps taken a day, 10% reduction in risk of heart disease.

"While several studies have suggested that physical activity is beneficially linked to health in those with IGT, this is the first study to specifically quantify the extent to which change in walking behavior can modify the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular-related deaths," lead study author Thomas Yates, from University of Leicester, told United Press International.