Walking for Health: New Study
While many of us try to be healthy in our daily lives, sometimes it’s hard to fit in exercise. Maybe you don’t want to have to join a gym. What if you work somewhere that has you sitting for long periods of time? Or maybe you feel like you just don’t have enough time in the day. Well, no matter the schedule or lifestyle, there’s something simple you can do to benefit your health in the long-run: walking!
Yes, just regular old walking is good for your health, as reported in a recently published study.
About the Study
For years, many health-conscious individuals have tried to reach at least 10,000 steps per day. The 10,000 steps-a-day goal was first recommended in the 1960s when a Japanese company released Manpo-kei, which translates to 10,000 steps meter. Since then, this number has become well-known as a health standard, however just how important is it to get 10,000 steps per day? Dr. I-Min Lee, a physical activity researcher and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and her colleagues set out to find out if that’s the number we should be aiming for.
Through previous research, Dr. Lee had already found that women between the ages of 62 and 101 tend to be less active, so she chose to use this age group for a new study. in the study, 16,741 participants wore step-tracking devices during waking hours for 4 years – from 2011 to 2015. The question the researchers wanted to answer was this: are increased steps associated with fewer deaths?
After conducting the study for 4 years, here’s what Dr. Lee and her colleagues found.
- More sedentary women walked an average of 2,700 steps each day
- There was a 41% decrease in the mortality rate of women who walked about 4,400 steps each day
- Mortality rates decreased with a greater amount of steps, before leveling off at around 7,500 steps per day
- There were approximately nine fewer deaths per 1,000 of the more active participants compared to the less active participants
What this Means for You
It’s important to note that this study only looked at mortality, and not other factors like quality of life or physical conditions. However, increasing your step count can benefit your health, but it seems that it’s actually not necessary to get all 10,00 every day.
If you’re in a more sedentary group (about 2,000 steps every day), try to get to at least 4,400 steps per day. If you’re in a mildly active or very active group, you can always increase your daily step count, but overall, you shouldn’t be intimidated or stressed out about getting to 10,000 steps. Instead, just do what you can to make different steps during the day add up.
Tips for Getting More Steps & Walking for Health
So now that we’ve talked about the study, let’s talk about how you can incorporate more steps into your day.
Walk to Work
If you live close enough to your workplace, walking to work is a great way to increase your daily step count. It’s not only beneficial to your health, but it can also save you money on gas and help you avoid traffic jams!
Take Walk Breaks
If you work in an office, you probably spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, maybe even hunched over your computer. But something easy that you can do is set reminders to take a 10-minute break every hour or so. Just walk down the hallway or a short stroll outside your office. This will help you get more steps and help you clear your mind before going back to work.
Walk with a Friend
Something that can make exercising feel more fun is doing it with a friend! Whether it’s a neighbor, significant other, or co-worker, having another person along with you makes you accountable and might even inspire some friendly competition.
Take the Stairs
One easy way to get more steps in every day is to take the stairs. Now, not everyone has the option of walking up and down stairs every day, but when you do have the option, skip the elevator or the escalator, and take the stairs. This will get your heart rate up a little bit and add some steps to your step count for the day.
Park Farther Away from the Store
While we all love convenient parking spaces, try parking in the first spot you see rather than a spot closer to the entrance of your grocery store or restaurant. This is an easy way to get some more steps in a way that you might not usually think of.
Walk Your Pets
Another great way to get in extra steps is to take your pets out for a walk. If you have a yard for your pets to run around in, you might not take them on a walk every day, but taking them out in the morning or the evening can get you walking, and burn off some of your pet’s energy (which might mean better sleep for both of you! 😉)
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