Walk Your Way to a Clean Bill of Health
Do you think you could walk 4 extra steps per minute while you’re awake each day? That’s 4 steps, not city blocks or country miles.
Because research shows those 4 extra steps could drop your risk of; diabetes by 23%, stroke by 22%, and even heart disease by 17%!¹
Here’s how we know that:
A few years back, the Mayo Clinic published a startling chart that revealed how various diseases could be avoided by walking an extra 3,000 and 6,000 steps each day. If that sounds like a lot, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not!
According to an international study of 717,527 people in the journal Nature, Americans walk an average of 4,774 steps per day . And to enjoy the 23% decreased risk of diabetes the Mayo Clinic calculated in their study, you’d need to add 3,000 steps to your current total.
It’s Easier Than You Think
Now, let’s assume you’re up for 12 hours in a day. You wake at 7am and go to bed at 7pm. Perhaps it’s more, but let’s say 12 hours for the sake of argument:
That means you’re awake for 720 minutes. So if you walked 4.2 extra steps in each of those minutes, you’d reach the 3,000 extra step mark!
And get this:
If you doubled that to 6,000 extra steps per day, you’d nearly HALVE the chance of dying from diabetes — decreasing your risk a whopping 46%! What a small “price” to pay to avoid a possibly life-threatening disease.
While the research shows the most impressive improvements with diabetes, there’s also positive news for other common ailments. An extra 6000 steps a day decreases your risk of stroke by 30%, heart attack by 20%, and heart disease by 25%.¹
For those who prefer not to slave at a gym or who aren’t as mobile as they once were, this is great news. And if you already love walking, then this news is a bonus. Plus, it reinforces the great work you’ve been doing!
How To Tell If You Will Benefit
Now, you may be wondering, “How do I know whether I’ve walked an extra 3,000 steps or more?” Good question. As you may know, there are several technologies that can track your steps (the “Fitbit” watch is a popular one). If you have a smartphone like an iPhone or an Android, there are applications you can download that can also track your steps for you:
iPhone: Argus, Stepz, and even the “Health” icon on all iPhones can count steps and distances.
Android: Runkeeper, Step Counter, Pedometer, and more.
Another “bonus” about walking is that it’s good for your bones ! In fact, walking is probably the simplest, most accessible thing most folks can do to strengthen their bones.
You can’t increase bone density by walking, but you can help maintain bone density and strengthen existing bone with weight-bearing exercises like walking.
So why not try to fit 4 more steps into each minute of your day? It could literally save your life!
By Monica Straith, BS, PT
Monica is the Content Manager and Fitness Lead at AlgaeCal . She’s an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and has a B.S. and B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She pulls from her experience in athletics and health to provide science-backed information for readers.
1 Moderate exercise: A little goes a long way.Mayo Clinic Health Letter 12(1): 1—2, 2008.