Walking has been heralded by fitness experts and doctors as one of the best exercises for the body. Only recently though has research shed light on the true benefits though. A study in the Lancet Medical Journal found that taking 2,000 extra steps per day could help those who are prone to heart attacks and stroke cut their risk factors by 8%. Don't get dissuaded by the number, its only a 20 minute walk at a moderate pace. The 2,000 steps shouldn't be taken on their own however, it's added onto an existing level of activity.
The benefits keep increasing too. An additional 4,000 steps per day, or a 40 minute walk, matches the benefits of a statin according to Thomas Yates of the Diabetes Research Unit at Leicester University. Those 4,000 steps reduce heart risk factors from anywhere from 16-20%. Whereas a statin has side effects and only lowers cholesterol, walking has a much broader range of health benefits.
The study which comprised of 9,306 adults from 40 countries who had impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) which can lead to heart disease factors. The study found that those who had high activity levels at the beginning of the year long study had lower levels of risk and the added 2,000 steps per day reduced those even further. Dr Richard Elliot of Diabetes UK also stated that, ‘This study adds to the wealth of evidence that regular physical activity can help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems such as stroke and heart disease in people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes.'
The researchers stated that the walking could be broken up into smaller chunks but that we should all aim for about 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. So while a 7-12 minute hiit workout is enough to build muscle and help with weight loss we should still be walking, hiking, swimming on top of that.
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