Dr's Casebook: Just walk a little faster
Dr Keith Souter writes: Well, 10,000 steps a day has been promoted for many years. I was surprised to find that the idea was first mentioned in Japan in the 1960s. I was even more surprised to learn that there is no scientific basis for this, according to researchers from the University of Granada. They have just published a paper in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and have determined that if we focus on the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease most of the benefits are actually seen at around 7,000 steps. In addition to that, there are additional benefits if you walk quicker.
They further suggest that at 8,000 steps the risk of premature death is significantly reduced. This is based on an average stride of 76 cm for men and 67cm for women. That is equivalent to walking 6.5 kilometres per day. This was collated from collaborating researchers in the Netherlands, Spain and the USA.
Twelve international studies involving more than a hundred and ten thousand people were considered. They suggest that if you hit those figures then the benefits are significant. Walk faster and there is even more benefit.
They found no difference between males and females and they suggest that it doesn’t matter how you measure you steps. Smart watch, wrist band pedometer or a smart phone in a pocket. Or perhaps just aim at that six and a half kilometres overall.
But of course, not everyone can manage those figures, but the research shows there is still good news. For people with low levels of physical activity, every additional 500 steps improves their health. I would add that if you can increase the speed of your walking, even if as I suggested a few weeks ago this is just in one minute bursts five times a day, then you are going the right way.