New research released in The International Journal of Obesity advises increasing your daily step count if you are trying to slash your risk of heart disease. The journal suggests that the previously recommended 10,000 steps per day is simply not enough.
The study included 111 Scottish postal workers who engaged in various levels of daily physical activity. Some worked sedentary desk jobs in an office, while others worked as delivery men, walking miles per day.
Upon enrollment in the study, the postal workers were assessed for risk factors for coronary heart disease, and their blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, waist circumference and BMI were all recorded. They were then given activity trackers, which they were told to wear 24 hours a day, for seven days. The results were then recorded for analysis.
The postal workers who lead sedentary lifestyles had larger waistlines, higher triglyceride levels and lower HDL cholesterol (the good kind of cholesterol). The postal workers who were out delivering packages by foot had smaller waistlines, lower triglyceride levels, and higher HDL cholesterol. After further analysis, it was reported that the best results belonged to workers who walked 15,000 steps per day (or spent seven or more hours upright). These workers had normal metabolic characteristics. They had no heightened risk for heart disease.
The downside to these findings: 15,000 steps a day is a lot of steps.
“The levels associated with zero risk factors in the current study…would be challenging and difficult to sustain unless incorporated into occupations,” the study’s authors said.
However, the researchers stressed the fact that any amount of exercise you can squeeze into your daily routine is beneficial. Even if you’re not reaching 15,000 steps daily, getting up from your desk and walking during your lunch hour or any other free time is important in regards to decreasing your risk of heart disease.
Photo: Pete Stanton, CC-BY
Elizabeth Chambers is a health intern with Paste and a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia.