I know I don’t have to tell you getting physical activity daily is an important part of staying healthy. There are some people who have physically demanding jobs and get a lot of activity each day, but for most of us, we are sitting either in a car or behind a desk for too many hours a day. For the majority of people, we must be intentional about including enough activity daily. That means the dreaded word: exercise.
There are so many different ways to get exercise – there is HIIT, bicycle riding, aerobics, strength training, Cross-fit, swimming and more. But, don’t overlook this simple but effective form of exercise: walking.
Walking is convenient, doesn’t wear down joints yet still burns calories, revs up your metabolism, is doable by just about anyone and can help prevent dozens of different diseases. There’s really no downside to walking. My preferred way to include it is by walking out in nature on one of our trails. Combining walking and nature is a win-win for sure.
Walking has been proven over time to be one of the very best ways for weight loss and weight management. According to one 13-year long study of over 50,000 adults, regularly walking for weight loss could be just as beneficial, or even more, than going to the gym. The results revealed that walkers tend to be thinner than those who go to the gym or regularly only practice high-intensity workouts and walking briskly and deliberately for at least 30 minutes a day resulted in them having a lower body mass index and a smaller waistline compared to non-walkers.
All good things, but how much walking is most effective? We’ve been told for many years that we need to get at least 10,000 steps in a day. I’m not big on counting calories or steps but for some it helps to have a baseline to shoot for. While it certainly will not harm you and it’s not a bad goal to shoot for, do you really need that many steps a day for the health benefits.
According to one longevity expert, 7,000 steps is the more accurate number. According to his research, anything after 7,000, and the benefits seem to level off rather than increase. One study found that women who averaged approximately 4,400 steps per day had much lower mortality rates compared to women who took only 2,700 steps per day. However, the mortality rates leveled out at around 7,500 steps per day.
So, more steps taken per day was associated with increased longevity but only to a point. Once you hit 7,500 steps, it doesn’t seem to add any more benefit to add more. Like most things, more isn’t necessarily better.
Are you intentional about getting physical activity and exercise each day? How often and how much do you walk?
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