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1 in 4 People Unaware of How Much They Walk

Experts say a brisk walk daily is all it takes to reap health benefits, but a recent survey found that more than half of people don't meet the recommended minimums.

By Amir Khan

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WEDNESDAY, September 25, 2013 —A brisk walk daily can help ward off a multitude of conditions, , but not enough people are doing so, according to a new survey by the World Heart Federation. The federation found that 25 percent of people worldwide have no idea how much they walk each day, and of those who do know, more than half walk less than 30 minutes every day.

“Awareness is the first step to a healthy heart,” Kathryn Taubert, chief science officer for the World Heart Federation, said in a statement. “Paying attention to how much we walk should be as simple as watching what we eat. By reaching the recommended guideline of minimum 30 minutes of moderate exercise, which includes brisk walking at least five days a week, many premature deaths can be prevented."

The surveyors questioned more than 7,000 people from Brazil, China, India, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S., and found that the U.S. and the U.K. had the greatest number of people who were either unaware of how much they walk each day or walked less than the recommended 30 minutes or 10,000 steps per day. Marcia Ory, PhD, a professor of health promotion & community health sciences at Texas A&M University, said there is no reason for people to not hit this mark.

“The best part is that it can be done throughout the day,” Dr. Ory said. “You can do 10 minutes in the morning, 10 at your lunch break and then another 10 when you get home. If you break it up, you still get the benefits.”

Small lifestlye changes can help you reach that mark, easily, Ory added.

“If you drive to work, don’t just go around looking for parking,” she said. “Park 5 minutes away, and take the stairs instead of the elevator.”

However, it’s important to not do too much too fast, Ory said.

“You can’t tell someone who does nothing to start walking 30 minutes right away,” she said. “If you’re not walking at all, start with 5 minutes and go from there.”

But while splitting the 30 minutes up throughout the day is ok, Andrew Freeman, MD, an assistant professor in the department of medicine at the National Jewish Health Center in Colorado, said walking at a moderate pace for the full allotment of time is much better.

“You know you’re at a right level when you’re walking to a sweat and you’re a little short of breath,” Dr. Freeman said. “The best benefit is seen when someone does it to a semi-intense level. People who walk leisurely won’t see the same benefits as someone who walks intensely.”

“Every bit of activity is good, and some is better than none,” he added, “but the more you can do in a solid, challenging block, the more benefit you’ll see.”

But regardless of your walking level, using a pedometer is a great way to get yourself moving, Freeman said.

“With all the new apps and devices out there, to track your movement, there’s a lot more competition that encourages people to outdo each other,” he said. “That social aspect is great for exercise.”

The important thing is to just get out there, Freeman said.






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