Posted on Jun 22, 2020, 6 p.m.
Studies suggest that the average American is fairly sedentary, and these figures coincide with the obesity rates for the most part. Being sedentary can be damaging to one’s health and can lead to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, osteoporosis, increased fall risk, increased feelings of depression and anxiety, and even increased risk of premature death.
Not surprisingly not many people walk anymore in this age of convenience and rush. However, experts in the health community try to encourage people to try and walk for at least 10,000 steps per day which works out to be about 5 miles as research indicates that it takes about 2,000 steps to hit a mile marker. According to Catrine Tudor-Locke who is the director of the Walking Behavior Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center the average American is only taking about 5,900 steps a day.
According to research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, America is miles behind other countries when it comes to walking. This study examined 2 day pedometer results from adults finding that Americans were taking about 5,117 steps a day while the average person in Western Australia was taking about 9,700 steps, the average person in Switzerland was taking about 9,650 steps, and the average steps per day in Japan was 7,168.
“It did surprise me that Americans were that sedentary,” study lead Dr. David R. Bassett Jr. “A person is typically considered sedentary if they take less than 5,000 steps per day.”
Another study published in the same journal found that Amish people were lapping everyone in America in terms of steps per day: adult males in the Amish farming community took over 18,000 steps per day while females there averaged taking over 14,000 steps per day.
Regarding the average adult American in comparison Basset says that these “values are about one-third of what Amish people take in farming communities. It really does suggest to us that there’s been a tremendous decline in the last century and a half in the amount of walking people do.”
Less than 50% of youth, and 24% of adults get enough physical activity in America according to America Walks. Studies suggest that those who increase their daily steps to 10,000 a day experience health benefits such as reductions in blood pressure after 24 weeks, weight loss, improved moods, increased energy, and improved glucose levels. Simply put walking more can literally save lives, especially for those who are physically inactive living sedentary lives, and science is well documented backing this.
Walking 10,000 steps per day is not officially recommended by the CDC, who instead recommend engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, to hit this recommendation you would need to walk 7-8,000 steps a day. If getting your daily steps up to the 10,000 a day marker is too drastic and daunting of a task, don’t over do it and over exert yourself. Getting and staying active is what is most important, your stamina and endurance will gradually increase to achieve the goal.
"We just want people to get up, and get started," Dr. Clay Marsh. "Any amount of activity that you can do today that you didn’t do yesterday, you're probably going to start benefiting from it."
There is no real strategy to increase the amount of steps taken per day, each person has to experiment to find what works best for them, the important part is to increase your activity level beyond what you were doing before, and keep increasing the build up until you hit the goal which can be modified to also keep increasing. Taking the stairs more often is a good way to up your step count, walk to the further restroom or water cooler, park further away, and walking to music may make it more enjoyable as well as motivate you to walk faster or farther.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.