“Walking every day for at least 15–20 minutes can provide tremendous beneficial effects on general health,” said Domenico Praticò, MD, Professor at Temple University and Director of the Alzheimer’s Center at Temple.
“When it comes to the health benefits of walking, regular physical activity benefits both body and mind. Going to the gym or working with a personal trainer works for some, but walking is something most people can safely do, and it costs nothing.
“Setting an achievable goal, even as little as 15 minutes per day, can have a significant impact.
“For a while now health agencies such as the Center for Disease Control have told us that we need to walk at least 10,000 steps per day to get the health benefits of this activity. A number that is well above the average 2,500 to 3,000 steps that one takes regularly. However, surprisingly, some recent research suggests that at 8,000 steps / day the health benefits start to plateau.
“So, should we forget the idea of 10,000 steps a day? Not so fast. Though some evidence suggests that even half of that number could be enough to help an individual live longer. While more steps are always better, researchers found that every extra 500 daily steps were associated with a 7% decreased risk in death from cardiovascular causes, and that every 1,000 daily steps were associated with a 15% decreased risk of death from all causes. Significant reduction in all-cause mortality was seen at 4,000 steps, but even 2,500 steps per day provided some health benefit.
“Further confirming these findings, in another case, when scientists combined the results of a large number of studies, they discovered that with the increase of the number of daily steps there is a proportional lowering of the risk for cognitive decline and dementia, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
“We can all make small lifestyle changes by adding more steps into the daily routine of the 2,000-3000 steps.
“Some easy ways to reach this goal include taking an after dinner walk with a friend to chat about the day, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, or walking your dog an extra block or make an extra circle around the block.
“Find ways to get some extra movement in little ways throughout your day. For example, if you take mass transportation, get off one or two stops before yours and walk the rest of the way. If you drive, park your car one or two blocks away from where your destination is.
“No matter which of these ideas you may choose, just remember that it does not matter at what age you start a regular walking daily routine, the health benefits are still there whether you are 50, 70, or 80 years old,” said Praticò.
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