There are numerous ways to keep fit, but there is one that, in addition to providing benefits to our health, is free, easy to practice because we can adapt it to our daily routine, it does not damage the joints and can be done by almost everyone. We talk about something as simple as to walk. So we can start by putting on our shoes and not forgetting the step counter.
The health benefits of walking have been discussed for many years, but a new study published in the magazine JAMA Internal Medicine points out that there are reasons to believe that walking may have an impact on risk of cancer, heart disease, and death.
Its authors have observed that the people studied who took at least 10,000 steps a day had lower mortality from cancer and heart disease or dementia. Researchers have followed a population of 78,500 people aged 40-79 from England, Scotland and Wales, who wore counters on their wrists 24 hours a day for seven days. After seven years, experts have compared the data with medical records.
The relationship between the steps taken and the lower presence of disease cases depends on the pathology studied. Thus, the experts observed that in the group of people who walked the most there were 62% fewer risk indicators for dementia, 80% for mortality and incidence of heart disease and somewhat less, 20%, for cancer.
However, the researchers make it clear in the conclusions that the studies carried out are observational and cannot demonstrate direct cause-effectbut interesting and consistent associations.
And not only the number of steps is important. So is the pace at which we walk. According to this same research, people who went faster, about 80 steps a minuteshowed even lower incidence of problems such as dementia, heart disease or premature death from any cause.
Although the action of walking is simple, to perform it we need to use a lot of muscles: hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, hips or trunk come into action as we move. Walking at a moderate pace outdoors helps us build strength in the lower body and core. If we also do it on a slope, we activate the legs and back muscles.
Goal: 10,000 steps a day
Along the same lines as the aforementioned study, a meta-analysis carried out in order to better understand the relationship between walking and the reduction of the risk of coronary heart disease. According to this comprehensive review, the risk of developing coronary heart disease decreases as the dose of walking increases.
Experts state that an increase of about 30 minutes of walking five days a week is associated with a 19% reduction in the risk of this disease.
How to include more steps in our day to day
It is estimated that a healthy adult person usually takes between 4,000 and 18,000 steps a day, and that below 5,000 is equivalent to a sedentary lifestyle. In Spain, and according to the results of the study of WeWardwith data from France, Belgium and Spain, we take an average of 6,500 steps a day, almost four and a half kilometers, which is equivalent to a walk of one hour and fifteen minutes.
A number slightly below the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), which indicate that moderate aerobic physical activities should be performed for at least 150 minutes. We can add steps to our day to day in various ways just by modifying some routines.
Any action that increases the heart rate counts as a form of exercise and we can achieve it with small changes in habits:
- take the dog for a walk: Dog owners have the perfect excuse to get out of the house and move their feet every day, a great way to keep us and our pet healthy.
- walk to work: prioritize the route on foot before taking the car and, if work is close to us, choose the longest route (provided we have time to arrive on time). This will help us add steps to our day to day.
- Use the stairs: instead of looking for the elevator or the escalator every time we need to go to a floor (whether in the office or at home), it is better to opt for the stairs to obtain the benefits that we detail here.
- park far away: if it is not possible to go on foot because work is far away, we can park the car far from our destination that allows us to walk at least ten minutes before arriving.
- take public transportation: Unlike the car, which takes us directly to the destination, trains or buses usually leave us in a nearby place. The fact that the stop is a block away may seem like a problem, but in the end it will help us add more minutes of walking. If we have the stop nearby we can get off at the previous one.
- Throw the garbage in the containers that are further away: We all have rubbish bins close to home, but if we go to the ones that are further away, we will be able to add a few more steps to our daily routine.
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