For years, it seems like people have been using an array of pedometers, fitness watches, bracelet tech and so many apps that promise to track how many steps we take each day. Using these, our step counts are tracked every time we walk into work, take the dog for a stroll, or just run errands or grab a coffee. And during that time, millions have jumped on the 10,000 daily steps bandwagon, crowing about their success if they push their step count past that somehow magic mark. But a peer-reviewed study recently published in a medical journal found that 7,000 steps should be our daily fitness goal for a healthier lifestyle.
Don’t you just love it when you find out that achieving a key ingredient to living longer is actually easier than you thought? So do we. It turns out, the 10,000-step-a-day baseline that’s been floating around for years didn’t come from a scientific source. .
What the new study says
The results of a recent study, which tracked middle-aged people for more than a decade, showed that men and women who walked more than 7,000 steps each day had a 50% to 70% lower risk of premature death, compared to those who walked fewer than 7,000 steps each day. The study also found there wasn’t a big difference in these benefits for those who crossed the 10,000-step mark daily, as compared to those who achieved 7,000 steps.
This is probably welcome news for people who routinely hit 7,000 to 8,000 steps each day, but often never make it to 10,000. It’s also good news for people who normally only achieve about 5,000 steps each day – now they don’t have too far to go to hit the new goal. Walking 7,000 steps adds up to about 3 miles. But remember: even if your daily step count is far below that, it’s OK. Concentrate on adding more steps when you can and increasing your step goal each month.
Benefits of all those steps
Why is your daily walking tally such an important indicator of health? Because regular movement helps keep our bodies healthy and keeps chronic disease conditions at bay. You don’t have to be a runner or be in training for a marathon to make your body healthier with exercise. Walking works just fine, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some benefits of regular walking include:
- Stronger bones
- Better muscle tone
- Maintains your weight, or helps you lose weight, depending on the intensity level and distance
- Improves heart health
- Better coordination
- Improves balance
- Boosts energy levels
- Improves your immune system
- Decreases stress
Regular walking also can help prevent or help people manage chronic conditions, like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Brisk is better
While the recent study did not show a longevity difference between participants who preferred a slow stroll compared to those who walked at a regular speed or walked quickly, other research has shown that brisk walking is better for your heart. Typically, this means walking a bit faster than your normal pace while swinging your arms naturally or bending them slightly at the elbow and pumping your arms as you walk. It’s seen as more of an intense cardio exercise than regular walking, burning more calories. The Mayo Clinic even suggests rotating regular walking with brisk walking to create a kind of interval fitness walk.
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