If you can dedicate at least an hour a day to walking, a new study shows you can reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst analyzed data from eight studies involving over 20,000 people. Participants were from the U.S. and 42 other countries. The researchers found that you don’t have to hit 10,000 steps a day to see improvements in your heart health.
In fact, walking between 6,000 and 9,000 steps is enough to decrease the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart disease, stroke, and heart failure. Doing so can lower the risk by up to 50% compared to people who walked 2,000 steps daily. The study also found that for every additional 1,000 steps taken each day, there was a significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events.
Researchers published their findings in the journal Circulation.
“We found for adults over 60, there was a strikingly lower risk of a cardiovascular event or disease over an average follow-up of six years,” Amanda Paluch, Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said in a press release. “When accumulating more steps per day, there was a progressively lower risk.”
Even though this study focused on older adults, younger individuals can see benefits from walking daily as well.
“For younger adults, being physically active benefits many of the precursors of cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes. These conditions are more likely to develop in younger adults and are important for early prevention of cardiovascular disease,” Paluch told Medical News Today.
Walking can reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol, according to Everyday Health. In turn, it minimizes your risk for heart disease as high cholesterol and blood pressure are risk factors.
Walking more than 6,000 steps a day has other benefits as well. A previous study found that walking 9,800 steps a day could cut the risk of developing dementia by 50%. Aerobic exercises such as walking increase blood flow to the brain, thus improving cognitive function.
You can increase your steps in several ways. If your neighborhood is walkable, walk through it. Consider walking to the grocery store instead of driving if it’s close by and safe to do so. Take a stroll at a nearby park. You can take up hobbies such as golf to increase the number of steps you take. You can find what works best for you and try to implement that into your routine.
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