Of course I thought it was weird when my friend started marching back and forth in my kitchen while I was trying to make us dinner.
Alas, it was only odd to me because I hadn't hopped on the wearable fitness tracker trend, like 1 in 5 Americans has. I didn’t know what it felt like to be a mere 100 steps away from hitting the daily 10,000-step goal. (And—because I know you were curious—yes, she hit that 10K number right as I finished putting together our quinoa bowls.)
But have you ever wondered where that 10,000-step count came from? Even though it was a pre-programmed goal on your wearable, this number hadn't been scientifically validated as the threshold you needed to hit to lessen disease risk. That is, until today—and it turns out it might be too low.
A new study, published in The International Journal of Obesity, compared the lives of sedentary office workers to those of mail carriers. The University of Warwick in England researchers found that the postal-service workers who walked at least 15,000 steps (the equivalent of walking about three hours a day or covering seven miles), had normal body mass indexes (BMI), waistline measurements, and metabolic profiles. They were also the only workers with effectively no heightened risk for cardiac disease. On the other hand, the workers who sat for most of each day, some as long as 15 hours, had larger waistlines, higher BMIs, worse blood sugar control and cholesterol profiles, and had the highest risk of heart disease.
Workers who walked at least 15,000 steps had the lowest body mass indexes, waistline measurements, metabolic profiles, and lowest risk of heart disease.
Before you assume the only way to improve your health is to switch career paths, the study had one positive finding for those of us who work desk jobs: almost any amount of walking reduced a worker’s chances of having a large waistline and other risk factors for heart disease.
<strong>Eat This! Tip:</strong>
Although some amount of standing and walking can incrementally improve your health, the findings do support the notion that we should be moving more; and that, perhaps, our minimum goal should be closer to 15,000 steps a day, which is the equivalent of 2 hours of walking at a brisk pace. To do so, consider taking a 20-minute walk before and after work as well as during lunch. During the day, consider doing a 2-minute loop around your office every 30 minutes. Not only will hitting a 15,000-step goal improve your health, but because it helps to jumpstart your metabolism, it’s also one of the 44 Ways to Lose 4 Inches of Body Fat!