Your Health: 10,000 steps? Pace makes a difference

Science says your heart and your head will thank you for it.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 4:44 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - For those of us who made a resolution to get more exercise in this new year, getting in your daily 10,000 steps sounds like a good place to start, right?

Health experts say “yes,” but new research shows that it’s not only the number of steps but the quality that matters.

Those 10,000 steps, or just about five miles, is a threshold that researchers say lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia.

Now, a new study shows those who move at a faster pace of about 80 to 100 steps a minute have more health benefits. In two recent papers, the researchers followed 78,000 people in the United Kingdom and found brisk walkers had a 35% lower risk of dying, a 30% lower risk of dementia, and a 25% lower risk of heart disease or cancer, suggesting the pace may be the key.

“A slightly brisker pace, maybe even to the point where you feel it, you’re breathing a little bit heavier, might be better for you,” said Dr. F. Perry Wilson, Yale School of Medicine.

Dr. Wilson, a Yale Researcher and author, was not involved in the new study but he says there are important implications. First, he advises his patients to get up and get moving as much as they can.

“I don’t want people to be discouraged looking at 10,000 and saying, ‘Oh my gosh, if I can’t hit that, I shouldn’t even try!’ because, really, the data suggests that any movement, any getting up and moving around is going to reduce your risk in the long-term,” Dr. Wilson said.

Dr. Wilson suggests people try to get their steps in clusters. Instead of a slow walk around the office throughout the day, build in time to take a 15 or even 30-minute walk at lunch.

Science says your heart and your head will thank you for it.

Dr. Wilson recommends using social media to track your steps as well as the steps of your friends and family. Sometimes a little friendly competition can be a good incentive to get healthier.

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