Most everyone knows that cardiovascular exercise is one of the major keys to keeping your heart healthy. Those dance classes and running sessions and even walking all add up to a healthier heart. Anyone who has ever strapped on a pedometer knows the goal is to take 10,000 steps a day, which is said to be the equivalent of 30 minutes of activity most days of the week. But if you struggle to hit that magical 10,0000 step mark, you can significantly decrease your risk of a cardiovascular event like heart attack or stroke by adding just 2,000 steps each day, according to a new study.
While the study looked at change in physical activity in pre-diabetic individuals, it’s encouraging that even bumping up our walking activity by just 2,000 steps can have a big impact on our heart attack risk. In the study, more than 9,000 individuals with impaired glucose tolerance were recruited from 40 countries. Participants either had existing cardiovascular disease or at least one additional cardiovascular risk factor. Their activity levels were assessed to get a baseline and then at 12 months and followed up for six years for cardiovascular events.
In the follow-up years, a total of 531 cardiovascular events occurred. Researchers found that for every 2,000 steps more per day a person took at the beginning of the study period, they had a 10 percent lower risk for heart disease in later years. The study also reports that every additional 2,000 steps taken a day over one year reduces the risk of cardiovascular events by 8 percent. In these particular individuals, both baseline levels of daily activity and their increase in activity over the study period were inversely associated with the subsequent risk of a cardiovascular event.
This study further reiterates that all of our activity is important. Even if you don’t think that little walk with your dog counts or you think that walking to the post office doesn’t improve your health, it is providing a buffer against future heart events. I have heart disease in my family — so I take getting my cardio in and staying active on a daily basic pretty seriously. The exercise I get every day — inconvenient as it is sometimes — seems a small price to pay for potentially tacking years onto my life and avoiding major medical issues in the future. Sure, it’s no guarantee that you won’t get sick, but life’s a gamble, and exercise puts the odds in your favor just a bit more! So if you’ve got that handy pedometer or get one in your stocking to support your New Year’s fitness resolutions, aim to tack on 2,000 steps every day onto your starting point. If nothing else, you may be decreasing your risk of a cardiac event in the next year.
Need a few ideas on how to walk more every day? Read this post on 16 ways to walk more every day!
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