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Did you know the 10,000-steps-a-day mantra was thought up by a Japanese marketer back in the 1960s? They were looking to sell a pedometer named Manpo-Kei, or the 10,000 steps meter, so they came up with the slogan, “Let’s walk 10,000 steps.”
Somehow that became conventional wisdom. But since it’s been put to the test several times over the past several years, the results have been mixed…
One study did find 10,000 steps a day is how much you need to walk to lose weight if you’re new to exercise. That’s about five miles if you assume 2,000 steps per mile.
Then there’s the study that announced 10,000 steps weren’t enough. That one claimed the magic number for weight loss was 12,000 steps a day for women up to the age of 40 and 11,000 steps (or 5 ½ miles) a day for women aged 40 and over. For men, the numbers for weight loss were 12,000 steps a day for those up to age 50 and 11,000 steps a day for those 50 and older.
That’s why when another study showed women who walked only 4,400 steps a day reduced their risk of death by 41 percent, it was welcomed news. That’s just 2.2 miles or roughly a 45-minute walk.
But what if I told you that you could cut that number even further with one simple daily activity?
Stairs are the secret to fewer steps
A team of international researchers used UK Biobank data collected from 450,000 adults to calculate participants’ susceptibility to cardiovascular disease based on family history, genetic risk and other established risk factors. Then, they surveyed those participants about their lifestyle habits, including how often they climbed stairs. The median follow-up time was 12.5 years.
The results were encouraging to say the least…
Those who climbed more than five flights of stairs every day lowered their risk of heart disease by 20 percent. That’s at least 50 steps per day!
“Short bursts of high-intensity stair climbing are a time-efficient way to improve cardiorespiratory fitness and lipid profile, especially among those unable to achieve the current physical activity recommendations,” says co-corresponding author Dr. Lu Qi, a professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
“These findings highlight the potential advantages of stair climbing as a primary preventive measure for ASCVD [atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease] in the general population.”
Results found climbing more stairs daily especially reduced risk in those who were less susceptible to cardiovascular disease. However, Qi says the increased risk of heart disease in more susceptible people could be “effectively offset” by climbing stairs every day.
Because stairs are so publicly available, Qi touts them as a low-cost, accessible way to add exercise to a daily routine.
“This study provides novel evidence for the protective effects of stair climbing on the risk of ASCVD, particularly for individuals with multiple ASCVD risk factors,” he says.
A previous study also found that stair climbing was the best exercise to lower blood pressure in stage 2 hypertensive postmenopausal women.
Climbing for better health
Getting started climbing stairs is easy, especially if you already have them in your home. Just go up and down five times a day and you’ll be on your way to better heart health. And remember, the research said “short bursts,” so you can spread your stair climbing out throughout the day.
If you don’t live in a place with stairs, maybe you work in a building with stairs. So instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs when you come to work and leave each day, leave for lunch and come back, and maybe take one more stair break — and that gets you to 5 or 6 flights!
If you don’t live or work anywhere with stairs, look around your neighborhood. Is there a park with stairs? Maybe a shopping center? Or does your gym have a stair climber? All of these are good options for you to start climbing your way to a healthier heart.
And it’s perfectly fine to ease into it. Start with one or two flights and add more as you feel up to it.
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!