Experts agree that diet is the most critical factor affecting health. In fact, poor diet is the number one cause of premature mortality, followed by smoking. Which is why it’s so important to fuel your body with the proper nutrients – like the whole food fiber, omega 3’s and antioxidants in Step One Foods®.
But want to reduce your risk of dying even more? Add in exercise. Exercise can help with mental health, brain health, sleep quality, cancer prevention, immune function, high blood pressure, and lifespan extension.
So how much exercise is best?
Standard guidelines say people need about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week. Moderate exercise might be brisk walking or active gardening (see the chart below) and adding in 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week has been found to reduce the risk of dying by 7%.
150 minutes of brisk walking translates into about 15,000 steps. So the guidelines are advocating that you add about 2,000 steps per day. Since the average American takes approximately 5,000 steps per day, your goal should be about 7,000 steps per day.
But what if you did more?
If you own a Fitbit or other pedometer, you’re probably aiming for 10,000 steps per day. The goal of 10,000 steps per day was not originally determined by research. It was a nice, round number that fit well into a pedometer advertising campaign. And it effectively doubles the standard guideline recommendation – and the risk reduction. Adding 300 minutes of walking per week reduces the risk of dying by 14%.
But even that may be sub optimal.
15,000 steps per day are probably even better. A study from Scotland evaluated the health of mail carriers who were averaging 15,000 steps a day. All showed a very low risk of developing heart disease - especially as compared to their sedentary postal office colleagues - leading the researchers to conclude that 15,000 steps per day, or 7 miles of walking, “is the level of activity we need to be healthy.”
Want to go one better? The Tsimane people of Bolivia walk 17,000 steps a day. And if you recall a prior blog about this community, you already know this group has the cleanest arteries on earth.
Bottom line? More activity is better. But even 20 minutes per day – or an extra 2000 steps - makes a real difference. So if you haven’t already incorporated a workout regime into your daily routine, now is the perfect time to get started. It only takes 20 minutes a day to give yourself lifelong benefits.
If you get to 17,000 steps per day, that’s terrific. But every step counts. Especially step number one.