Do you worry about the health of your heart? Do you want to do something good for your heart and your overall health? To get your heart healthy can start with a single step! Research has found that if you walk just 2,000 extra steps a day it can lower your risk of heart disease.
A recent study looked at people from all over the world with “pre-diabetes.” This condition is also known as impaired glucose tolerance or IGT for short. This means that your body doesn’t handle sugar well; your blood glucose can get too high, but not high enough to be true diabetes. People with IGT are more at risk of getting type 2 diabetes than other people. Those with IGT also have more risk of heart disease than others, but if they walked an extra 2000 steps a day it was found that they could reduce their risk of heart disease by about one tenth.
What does the research mean for you?
If you walk just an extra 20 minutes, or 2,000 steps a day, it can lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. For those with IGT, this extra walking can also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
How can I count my steps?
Use a step counter, or pedometer, to count your steps throughout the day. Attach the step counter to your belt so you can wear it to work, while running errands, or while at home. Start by trying to walk 2,000 steps a day, then set new goals each week to increase the number of steps you take. Most people set their long-term goal to 10,000 steps, or 5 miles a day.
How can I walk more during the day?
- Take a morning walk on your treadmill, at the gym, or around your neighborhood to get an extra boost before your day starts.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park a little farther away from the store or work to get some extra steps in each day.
- Walk in place during commercials on TV.
- Do more house work, yard work, or repair work around your home to get more steps in while making your living space better
Each step you take can bring you closer to your goal of a healthy heart.
Reviewed by Robert Ehrman, MD