Take 10,000 steps a day for better health

October 14, 2003 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Sports Nutrition and Exercise

Take 10,000 steps a day for better health

A few thousand extra steps every day can take people who are usually sedentary a long way toward better health, a new study shows.

Over a period of eight weeks, 18 previously inactive, overweight women who were given pedometers and the goal of walking 10,000 steps per day came very close to this target and significantly improved their health.

All of the women, who were at risk for diabetes, saw beneficial changes in blood glucose levels and lowered their blood pressure. These health benefits from walking were achieved without dieting and weight loss. Many of the women chose to continue the 10,000-steps program after the study was completed.

Most sedentary people log between 4,000 and 6,000 steps per day. Upping that to 10,000 steps represents about two miles of extra walking.

The 10,000-step recommendation is consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) calling on all Americans to accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days.

In the four "control" weeks preceding the study, the women walked 4972 steps per day. During the next eight weeks, they increased their accumulated steps per day by 85 percent, to 9213 steps. None of the women dieted during the study.

While none of the women lost weight during the study, they all saw improvements in glucose tolerance. Impaired glucose tolerance precedes the development of diabetes. Somewhat surprisingly, the program also led to a significant drop in blood pressure.

How difficult was it for these previously inactive women to incorporate this level of activity into their daily lives? It was a lifestyle change for many of them.

However, many of the women did not realize that doing little things like parking further away or getting up to talk with your colleague down the hall instead of e-mailing him or her could result in better health. Many of the women thought they needed to sweat for 30 minutes to gain any benefit from activity, which, apparently, is not the case.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.