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The Importance of Walking

Walking is considered the easiest and cheapest form of exercise. Walking is a great way to get in the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week. It is also going to contribute to your metabolic rate. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis accounts for about 15% of your metabolic rate. While getting 10k steps a day is great, benefits of walking can be seen with a step count that is lower than 10k steps. We start to see benefits of walking at about 6k steps with more being shown at a step count of 7.5k steps and plateauing at around 12k. For those that like to have an exact goal, instead of just a range (that’s me) 8k steps a day would be a good starting goal.


A recent systematic review presented the benefits of walking on all cause mortality and cardiovascular disease. However, while walking is amazing it is more amazing when paired with strength training. Strength training is going to load your muscles, which gives you multiple benefits. Click here for reasons why you should strength train.


All Cause Mortality:


In the case of all cause mortality, there was a higher risk with a step count of less than 4000 a day. Mortality rates per 1000 person were about 76.7%. The death rate lowered as step count increased, going from 76.7% to 21.4% for those with a step count of 4000-7999 per day. Percentages were even lower (6.9%) with a step count between 8000-11999 steps per day. A step count of 1200 was associated with a death rate of 4.8%.


Cardiovascular Disease


Like all cause mortality, an increased step cause was shown to reduce the risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Mortality rates per 1000 person for a step count that was less than 4000 per was 31.6%, while a step count between 4000-7999 had a death percentage of 6.1%, 8000-11999 had a percentage of 2.1%, and 12000 was about 1%.



Cancer


Step count could also reduce ones risk of cancer. Mortality rates per 1000 person years was 10.5% in those with a step count of less than 4000, 6.4% in those with a step count between 4000-7999, 2.3% for those with a step count of 8000-11999, and 1.8% with a step count above 12000.


This systematic review showed an obvious dose response relationship. As daily step increased the risk for certain diseases decreased. The biggest difference was in the case for all cause mortality, going from 76.7% to 4.8%. When it comes to intensity of steps there was no significant associated with step intensity. The number of steps per day is more important than how fast you get these steps.


While this systematic review gives us a good insight in the relationship between step count and mortality, lifestyle factors were not accounted for. A diet that is rich in fruit, vegetables, fats, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates, an exercise program, plus a walking routine would probably give you the most benefits. Its is not just one thing that impacts something, it is a combination of things that impacts something.


Other reasons to have a step goal:


Having a step goal can also give you benefits outside of a reduced risk for diseases. These include:


Improved lung function

Improved blood sugar & insulin sensitivity

Improved digestion

Vitamin D exposure

Improved sleep

Increased energy levels

Decreases stress


Ways to Hit Extra Steps:


Start and or end your day with a walk

Take the stairs

Park far away from the grocery store, work, the gym, etc

Clean your house


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