Walking is a panacea if you want to improve your health. By simply putting one foot forward regularly at certain times of the day, capable individuals tone their heart muscles, reduce their risk of disease, reduce joint pain, and boost their immune system.
Most of the exercises require no special equipment, can be done indoors or outdoors, and are accessible to people of almost any fitness level. It’s so close to perfection that Dr. Thomas Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called it “the closest thing to a wonder drug.”
Still, scientists have been digging deeper to find out if they’re getting the most benefit out of this super-exercise.
7,000 is the new 10,000 steps
If you wear any kind of fitness watch or pedometer, the default programmed daily step goal is usually 10,000. But where did that number come from?A recent study in lancet After looking more closely at the benefits of 10,000 steps a day, we found that 7,000 is closer to what you need to stay healthy.
New York orthopedic surgeon Longevity…Simplified: Living a Longer, Healthier Life Shouldn’t Be Complicated“Many recent studies show that you only need 6,000 to 7,000 steps per day to see significant benefits.”
And the older you get, Luks says, the more you’ll benefit from taking fewer steps a day. .
When setting a step goal, think about improving yourself first, not an arbitrary number, says Nicole, professor of kinesiology at Indiana University-Purdue University and former president of the American College of Sports Medicine. Keith says.
“Ten thousand steps is a lot,” she says. “If you’re an active person and you’re always walking outside, or if you have a manual labor job and you stand and carry things and walk around…that’s great. If you can only get 3,500, aim for 3,500. Then see if you can push it to 4,000.”
Intervals and walking poles add perks
Certain walking methods may have certain additional benefits.2017 study in the journal cell metabolism For people aged 65 to 80, interval training (adding fast speeds to your normal walking pace) has been found to help reverse muscle cell breakdown and improve strength. than a regular walk.
But while these specific changes may offer certain benefits, Keith advises not to let walking at all stop you from walking in your pursuit of the “perfect” way to walk.
“It’s good to do these studies and bring people’s attention, but I don’t want people to walk away thinking they have to or never do this,” she said. “The ultimate message is to just walk in and get out there and do it in a way that you have access to.”
The downstream effects of immobility and sedentary behavior are terrible, says Luks. Focus on moving your body regularly to increase your steps and get the benefits you need.
“There’s no wrong way to walk,” he says. “I think people can easily find an excuse not to do something if it’s too challenging. Would walking faster probably be a little better? Sure. Walking a little longer would be a little better? Of course.” But at the end of the day, if your watch or phone shows that you’ve logged your total steps, that’s fine.”
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