Healthy Byte: The Myth of the 10K Steps A Day

Originally Posted HERE

Image result for 10000 steps

A few of my friends who’ve recently retired decided to start walking more, sometimes for an hour or more a day.

Seniors Walking Together at the Park

Becoming sedentary seems to be a danger in retirement, when life can slow down, and medical research has documented the myriad health benefits of physical activity. To enjoy the benefits from walking – weight loss, heart health, more independence in old age, and even a longer life – medical experts and fitness gurus often recommend that people shoot for 10,000 steps per day.

But what’s the point of a goal if it’s unrealistic? A Centers for Disease Control study that gave middle-aged people a pedometer to record their activity found that “the 10,000-step recommendation for daily exercise was considered too difficult to achieve.”

Here’s new information that should take some of the pressure off: walking about half as many steps still has substantial health benefits.

I. Min Lee at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston tracked 17,000 older women – average age 72 – to determine whether walking regularly would increase their life spans. It turns out that the women’s death rate declined by 40 percent when they walked just 4,400 steps a day.

Walking more than 4,400 steps is even better – but only up to a point. For every 1,000 additional steps beyond 4,400, the mortality rate declined, but the benefits stopped at around 7,500 steps per day, said the study, published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

More good news in the study for retirees is that it’s not necessary to walk vigorously to enjoy the health benefits.

Healthy Byte: Interval vs Marathon

marathon-training-03064-700x394
So you swore you’d run a marathon this year.

Good news: You can stop feeling guilty about not starting to train for it yet.

As it turns out, you can get some of the same benefits of long-distance running and other types of endurance training without ever passing the five-mile mark.

That’s right. Running fast and hard for five to 10 minutes a day can add years to your life, just as running for hours can. In fact, people who run for less than an hour a week — so long as they get in their few minutes of daily running — getsimilar benefits in terms of heart health compared with people who run more than three hours a week.

That finding squares with recent research showing that short bursts of intense exercise can provide some of the same health benefits as long, endurance-style workouts.

Marathoners, meet interval training
One of the most popular forms of the quick workout — and the one that has been studied the most — is interval training. Basically, you work yourself as hard and fast as you can for a few minutes, rest, then do it again.

The best part? It typically lasts between five and 10 minutes total. (There’s even a New York Times workout app based on the idea, called the 7-Minute Workout. More on that here.)

Despite consuming far less time than a marathon training session, an interval workout may actually be healthier in the long run (pun intended), according to some research done in the past decade.

A 2012 study comparing a group of runners who did traditional, continuous runs with a group of runners who did interval training found that both groups achieved nearly the same results. There was one small difference, though: The interval trainers had better peak oxygen uptake, an important measure of endurance.

And a recent study in the journal Diabetologia found that doing walking interval training — an hour of alternating between three minutes of brisk walking and three minutes of stopping — helped people with diabetes control their blood-sugar levels far better than simply walking at the same pace continuously.

Still not convinced?
Consider this: Distance running could actually be bad for you.

There’s some evidence to suggest that prolonged, intense exercise — such as the type necessary in the weeks and months before a marathon and in the race itself — can have some unhealthy side effects, from reduced immune function to digestive issues.

Working the body to its maximum, some research shows, can reduce the body’s natural ability to fend off upper-respiratory infections including colds and the flu. Short bouts of activity, on the other hand, improve immune function. Quick workouts appear to not only reduce your chances of getting sick, but also to reduce the severity of an illness when you do come down with something.

Up to 71% of long-distance runners also experience abdominal cramping and diarrhea. (The latter is so frequent that runners have a term for it: “runner’s trots,” aka “runner’s diarrhea.”) Many runners, even those without a history of it, experience acid reflux — a condition with effects like heartburn, indigestion, coughing, hoarseness, and asthma — during and immediately after a long run.

Here’s what it all comes down to: Whether you stick to a long-distance routine or opt for a quicker, daily exercise plan, it’s important to keep in mind that more is not always better.

Original Article Posted HERE

HB Sig