As we get older, it’s beneficial for us to take precautionary measures against chronic diseases. Over time, our risk for things like diabetes and heart disease tends to grow. However, one recent study shows that the simple act of walking lowers diabetes risk and can protect your heart health as you age!
The standard recommendation for the amount of steps you should take in a day is 10,000. However, it’s actually been suggested that this number was part of a marketing campaign for fitness tracking devices that wasn’t really based on any hard scientific evidence that 10,000 steps is the magic number for perfect health. That being said, more recent research presented by the American Heart Association has suggested that the more steps you take each day, the lower your diabetes and high blood pressure risk are.
Researchers collected data from 1,923 people who participated in the national Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. Participants were middle-aged with an average age of 45, and they all wore accelerometer devices which counted their steps each day for a year. During the nine-year follow-up, the findings indicated that subjects who walked the most steps per day lowered their risk of diabetes by 43 percent and lowered their risk of high blood pressure by 31 percent. Even further, the researchers found that for every 1,000 more steps per day a person took, they lowered their risk of being obese by 13 percent.
In a press release, lead author of the study Amanda E. Paluch, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts, said “the results of our study add to the growing evidence about the importance of regular physical activity for improving heart health, and that preventive efforts can be effective, even as middle-aged adults move into older adulthood.” And while there wasn’t a designated number of steps to recommend from the findings, they did suggest that the more walking people were able to do, the more benefits they would experience. “Walking is a widely accessible form of physical activity, and steps-per-day is an easy measurement and motivator that most people understand and can easily measure given the booming industry of wearable technologies or smartphones,” she concluded.
So if you’ve got a smartphone or a fitness tracker, be sure to put it to use and rack up those steps as often as possible. As this study and many others have shown, prevention is the best way to protect your health as you age — and it could be as simple as a stroll in the park!