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Pace As Important As Number of Steps Per Day

Setting a goal of 10,000 steps per day for health has become popular in recent years. However, a recent study suggests that a smaller number of steps at at a greater intensity and sitting less can also be beneficial for your health.


Participants in the study included 3,388 people age 20 and older who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The researchers examined minute-by-minute step data to determine how fast people were actually walking. They also looked at the relationship between step-defined physical activity and cardiometabolic risk factors, including waist circumference, blood pressure, fasting glucose, insulin, cholesterol levels, and body mass index.


The researchers found that the average American takes between 5,000 and 7,000 steps per day. For men, only the highest quintile had a median of more than 10,000 steps per day, coming in at 12,334. For women, the top quintile had a median 9,824 steps per day. However, regardless of the quintile, the researchers found that taking at least 3,000 steps per day at a brisk pace was essential for healthy levels of cholesterol and other heart health risk factors.


Additionally, the researchers looked at peak 30-minute cadence, which was the average number of steps in a person’s most vigorous 30 minutes. They found that only the top quintile had a median peak cadence (96 steps per minute) that fit with the physical activity guideline of 30 minutes per day at 100 steps per minute.


Regardless of the quintile participants fell into, the researchers found a strong relationship between walking more briskly and better cardiometabolic risk numbers. They also found that more steps were associated with better cardiovascular health and that more sedentary time was associated with less healthy scores on several risk factors.


Researchers from Oregon State University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on September 23, 2016, in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.


Regular exercise is important for maintaining good health. Previous clinical studies suggest that even moderate exercise can reduce your risk of dying prematurely, help with blood sugar control, reduce body weight, improve heart health and improve respiratory health.

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