The idea of taking 10,000 steps per day gets a lot of stick. Is it essential for good health, or is it just an arbitrary goal? The truth is that it depends. If you’re working out three or four times per week, the extra steps are a bonus but far from game-changing. The problem is that many struggle to hit even moderate levels of consistent physical activity. If that’s you, giving yourself a manageable step target can be a lifesaver.
Researchers in the US followed the exercise habits of a group of over-40s for a decade and found that cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of death among the participants. For those walking an average number of steps per day (about 4,000, both in the US and UK), heart problems posed a significant risk. But those who had a daily step count of 8,000 (walking roughly 6km) reduced their chances of death from a cardiovascular disease by 51%. That’s a huge boost to your heart’s defences and, best of all, it involves being on your feet for less than an extra hour each day.
According to the study, published in JAMA, it didn’t matter whether the goal was achieved at a leisurely or brisk pace. That means an extra dog walk will do. So, take heart if you can’t make it to the gym this week. Simply go for an extra stroll around your local park to step up your cardiovascular prospects.
Always Hit Your Target
Here are some other scientifically approved daily goals to aim for.
25g of Protein per Meal
Consume less and muscle tears from exercise will persist, so gains will go to waste, according to the University of Texas.
15 Minutes of Meditation
Using a meditation app for 15 minutes per day confers similar mental benefits to a day off work, says the Journal of Positive Psychology.
Eight Hours’ Sleep
Regularly skipping a good night’s sleep can double your mortality risk from all causes, according to a study by University College London.
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