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Your Healthy Family: More Americans are walking, but not far enough

Posted at 8:36 AM, Sep 19, 2018
and last updated 2019-07-09 11:27:43-04

CLEVELAND, OHIO – According to a recent study, Americans appear to be walking more often now than they were a decade ago.

Cleveland Clinic wellness expert Michael Roizen, M.D., did not take part in the research, but said while more people reported hitting the pavement, the results were not all good.

“What they found is that from 2005 to 2010, to 2015, the number of people walking increased by about ten percent,” he said. “The negative on that, however, is that people are now walking fewer steps.”

The study looked at the reported walking habits of adults according to data collected from the National Health Interview Survey.

The research included data on walking for transportation as well as leisure-time walking.

Researchers found that while the percentage of people walking went up by about three percent for transportation and ten percent for leisure, the average distance traveled in both instances was less over time.

Dr. Roizen said if we’re not active, we won’t have normal blood pressure, cholesterol, or stress management – which are key for a healthy lifestyle.

Experts recommend getting a minimum of 10,000 steps each day.

Dr. Roizen said with a little planning it’s easier to get to 10,000 steps than most people might think.

He said little daily habits like parking at the furthest parking space from your office, walking to the furthest bathroom, walking to someone’s desk to talk instead of emailing or calling on the phone, and taking the stairs are all little things that can add up to make a big difference.

Dr. Roizen also recommends getting a pedometer to track steps, as well as a walking buddy who can help keep you accountable.

For those lacking in motivation, Dr. Roizen suggests looking into whether your employer has a wellness incentive plan for how many steps you take each day. Many times these plans can help reduce your insurance costs, which helps provide more motivation to keep moving.

“The key to where you get healthy is 10,000 steps a day,” he said. “It’s not a magic number we pulled down from the sky, but, it’s the number where you break metabolic syndrome and where you break insulin resistance in your muscle cells.”

For those who have mastered 10,000 daily steps, Dr. Roizen recommends adding some more intense physical activity, which can go a long way towards preventing many chronic diseases.

Complete results of the study can be found in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine.