How easy is it to increase daily activity aimed at improving health and decreasing the ill effects of a sedentary life style? Walking provides many health benefits. However, how much walking should one do?
According to the document HealthyPeople 2020 (1), adults are not meeting the recommended guidelines for physical activity. Eighty percent of adults do not meet the recommended guidelines in the area of aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activities. Monitoring how many steps we take each day is one way to gauge whether we are active enough. In order to meet the requirements and improve our health, we need to log 10,000 steps a day! To achieve this number of steps, brisk walking is called for, to increase the number of steps and essentially end up with a moderate to high intensity walking workout. The use of step tracking devices such as pedometers helps record the steps and provides motivation to attain the 10,000 step goal. As part of one’s daily routine, low intensity walking results in approximately 3000 to 4000 steps or 30 minutes of walking (2, 3). Achieving 10,000 steps a day is correlated with an individual’s body composition (3), with differences found among obese and non –obese individuals in a pedometer-based study (3). The study found that individuals of normal weight could achieve 10,000 steps a day compared to less than 5000 steps a day for obese individuals (3). The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 150 minutes of moderately intense or 75 minutes of vigorously intense aerobic activity a week. Individuals can combine moderate and vigorous activity for health gains (WHO). If you have not engaged in intentional physical activity, start slowly and consult with your family doctor before you start. In addition to weight control, walking can help improve mood and lower the risk of falls, early death, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke and some cancers (1, 2). Make walking fun, walk with a friend and enjoy the benefits of good health.
- Pillay, JD, van der Ploeg, HP, Kolbe-Alexander, TL, Proper, KI, van Stralen, M, Tomaz, SA, van Mechelen, W and Lambert EV (2015) The association between daily steps and health, and the mediating role of body composition: a pedometer-based, cross-sectional study in an employed South African population. DOI 10.1186/s12889-015-1381-6.