by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
Now that we finally have wonderful weather, it’s time to spend more time outdoors, exercise and enjoy it! The American Heart Association (AHA) cites research showing the health benefits of regular walking and the importance of safe walking spaces in communities. Whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll through your neighborhood or a power-walk in the park or on the beach, the AHA, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, says taking part in physical activity is one of the best ways to manage stress, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke and boost your mood. Improved technology and the growing popularity of fitness applications, electronic wearables and step counters have made counting steps an easy way to count health benefits, as noted through a growing body of scientific research.
A study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Conference 2021 (EPI), found that: Study participants who took more steps in short spurts lived longer, regardless of how many steps they had in longer, uninterrupted bouts. The benefits leveled off at about 4,500 steps a day in short spurts. Compared to no daily steps, each initial increase of 1,000 steps a day was associated with a 28% decrease in death during the follow-up period. A 32% decrease in death was noted in participants who took more than 2,000 steps daily in uninterrupted bouts. Middle-aged people who walked the most steps-per-day had a 43% lower risk of diabetes and a 31% lower risk of high blood pressure, compared to those with the fewest steps, according to research. For women in the study, each 1,000-step interval resulted in a 13% lower risk of obesity, and those with the highest step count were 61% less likely to have obesity, compared to women who walked the least. For me, I try to walk more even when I shop at the grocery store or at a mall. By parking further from the stores each time, instead of trying to find a spot right by the front door, will add up in extra steps while doing daily errands. People who took at least 7,000 steps a day had a 50% to 70% lower risk of dying compared with people who took fewer than 7,000 steps a day, according to a study in the journal JAMA Open Network. Researchers found that a higher daily step count (over 10,000 steps) lowered the risk of premature death from any cause among Black and white middle-aged women and men. Increasing everyday activity, like parking slightly further from your destination, doing some extra housework or yard work and walking your dog add up to more steps and better health.” The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. You can knock that out in just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. And every minute of moderate to vigorous activity counts toward your goal. Do whatever works to get you moving and help you kick-off a commitment to a lifetime of healthy living. Go outside and enjoy our glorious summer weather!