A few months ago, I wrote about walking 10,000 steps per day to remain fit and healthy. Just a few weeks later, a new study was published which suggested we needed to up our goal to 15,000 steps.
The study published in The International Journal of Obesity looked at 111 middle-aged postal workers in Scotland, and compared those who worked at sedentary jobs to those who walked all day delivering mail. Significant health benefits, which included reduced waist line, lower BMI, lower blood sugars and better cholesterol profiles were noticed in those who walked the 15,000 steps per day.
I was persuaded of these findings and planned a 15,000 steps a day strategy — until I further researched the study.
First, the study was observational and not causal. This means that the researchers studied the individuals at one point in time and did not study the subjects over years and years.
Also the study is not randomized. It may be possible that the slim, healthy postal workers opted for the walking postal delivery jobs and the overweight, sedentary workers opted for the sedentary job, and we may be attributing the job to the fitness of the workers rather than their choice.
Also, one of the authors of study was the director of the manufacturer of the fancy gadget — the activPAL physical activity monitors — used among study subjects to measure daily steps. So while the findings may be valid, how the data is presented and what data is presented may be skewed.
Lastly, we need to wonder, how practical is it for an average person to walk 15,000 steps per day? That’s about 7 miles or about 3 hours of walking — or walking in Memphis on Poplar Avenue from the Mississippi River, past Beale Street, past the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library to the University of Memphis, each and every day.
So how much should we walk? As I wrote before, the benefits of walking start with just 2,000 steps (or 1 mile a day) at a slow pace of 2 miles per hour. However, longer distances and a faster pace reap greater benefits. The bonus is that walking an additional 2,500 step a day from our usual routine can help us lose a pound per week of weight.
The science behind choosing the goal of 10,000 steps a day towards fitness may not be strong, but 10,000 is a well-rounded, easy to remember and easily measurable number, and for now I am walking to it.
Source: Commercial Appeal