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Now is the time of year here in the Northeast when I dare to venture back outside for more than ten minutes at a time, and based on research I’ve been reading, I’m giving my walking shoes a good dusting off!
I’m also going to get myself a Fitbit or other device that will count my steps.
It seems that, for people in my age group who want to move forward into our older years with a healthy heart, adding additional steps to our day is pretty much a no-brainer.
If you’re 70 or older, you’ll want to hear about this research.
Study looks at walking and heart health
In a recent study, walking an additional 500 steps each day (only about a quarter of a mile!) was associated with a 14 percent lower risk of heart disease for people over 70.
The research was presented at the American Heart Association’s conference, Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2023, in Boston earlier this month.
A group of researchers from major medical centers including Johns Hopkins and the University of Massachusetts analyzed data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.
ARIC is a long-term (36 years) study that investigated the causes of heart disease and atherosclerosis.
In the current study, researchers analyzed health data from 452 ARIC participants who used a device that measured their daily steps. They wore the devices for at least three days and for at least ten hours per day. Their average step count was about 3500 steps per day.
During a 3.5-year follow-up, 7.5 percent of the participants experienced heart disease, stroke or heart failure.
Add 500 steps a day to lower your risk
There was one really useful finding that came out of this study:
For every additional 500 steps a person took each day, their risk of a cardiovascular event when down by 14 percent!
Folks, 500 steps is only about a quarter of a mile… I could do that by walking to my local grocery store and back once a day. Not a big deal!
And if you want to walk more, the benefits stack up:
- Compared to adults who took less than 2,000 steps per day, adults who took about 4,500 steps per day had a 77% lower observed risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event.
- Only about 3.5% of participants who took around 4,500 steps per day had a cardiovascular event, compared to 11.5% of those who took less than 2,000 steps per day, over the 3.5-year follow-up period.
You don’t need a Fitbit to do this!
It’s NOT necessary to go out and buy yourself a step-counting watch or other fancy device to start acting on these findings.
There are free apps on your phone that count steps. The one I use is called “Daily Step Tracker.”
Or, if you don’t want to carry your phone with you all the time, here’s a better idea.
Take a walk in your neighborhood with a destination in mind: the grocery store, a friend’s house, or the local library.
Take your phone with you just this once and use a step tracker to map out exactly how many steps it takes to arrive at that destination.
Then, once a day, take a walk to that spot.
Bonus: you’ll get another 500 steps in on the way back!
Not convinced? Here’s more research that says that a good brisk walk can slow down the aging process.
And finally, if you’re afraid you’ll find walking a bore, try walking backward for even better health outcomes!
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!
Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study — National Institutes of Health