Walking is the easiest and one of the most effective ways to shed kilos, take care of your heart and also mind. It can help you lose weight sustainably with little risk of injuries and less impact on your joints, knees or muscles. According to studies, walking can improve blood pressure, slow down heart rate, reduce fat and body weight, cholesterol, and ease depression. While the many benefits of walking have been shows by several studies over the years, it is not clear how much to walk for a healthy life. (Also read | Summer pet care tips: 4 things to remember while walking your dog during summer)
There are studies that suggest walking 10,000 steps can help improve cardiovascular health and reduce risk of both dementia and cancer. While achieving the target of walking 10,000 steps daily has become popular among fitness enthusiasts even fewer steps than that can confer many benefits. As many as 3,800 steps daily can reduce cognitive decline by 25%. According to yet another recent study, people who take 7,000 steps per day are at reduced risk of early death than those who take fewer steps each day. However, due to sedentary lifestyle, many people struggle to achieve even 5K or 7K.
Fitness experts say that one must decide the number of steps to walk per day on the basis of their daily activity level.
“While there is a common perception that 10,000 steps a day is the key to good health, my recommendation is to find a sustainable way to work out or move, which will stay with you for life. If you’re entirely sedentary, jumping into 10,000 steps a day will only cause more harm than good. You know your body best – understand your limitations and your potential (you can consult a trusted fitness trainer for this) and then decide your movement plan. Keep in mind – steps happen even when you’re not thinking about them – small changes, like taking the stairs versus the elevator, walking your dog, choosing to walk instead of drive, are all ways in which your step count will increase. And if you’re already very active, working out every day or multiple times a week, your step count is probably covered or well-supported by meaningful movement,” says Mallika Tarkas Parekh, health and wellness expert and owner of Physique 57 India.
“As beneficial as walking at least 10,000 steps per day, it is imperative to remember the fundamental truth of any physical activity: any movement is better than no movement at all. According to studies, the average person takes between 5,000 and 7,500 steps daily, even if they are mostly living a sedentary lifestyle. However, adding a 30-minute walk to your daily routine can add an extra 3,000 to 4,000 steps, bringing you closer to the 10,000-step goal,” says Rohit Shelatkar, VP at Vitabiotics, Fitness & Nutrition Expert.
“In order to combat the ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle a person has to take a minimum of 2000-2200 steps in a day. For many adult populations, it might be difficult with a busy schedule to take 2000 steps or to walk for 20-22 mins on average in a stretch. According to a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (The Journal of the America of Sports Medicine), 5 minutes of walking every 30 minutes of sitting can reduce the harmful effect of prolonged sitting. It can help lower blood sugar level, blood pressure, decrease fatigue, and improve mood. Walking 5 minutes every 30 minutes might sound very little, but when you combine 5 minutes throughout the day you will be walking for a good 40 minutes which averages almost 4000 steps,” says Lalchawimawi Sanate, PT, LCCE, Senior Physiotherapist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Sahakarnagar, Bangalore.
Tips to walk more
– Set a reminder in your phone to walk for just 5 minutes every 30 minutes.
– In a scenario where you cannot leave your desk or you are watching your favorite TV show or you are studying, you can do stationary walking.
– If you have a treadmill or cross-trainer, you can place it near your workstation where you can use it every 30 minutes.