Regular physical activity is linked to a longer, healthier life; by staying active we can help ensure mobility later in life and keep fighting fit.
An extensive, ground-breaking study done in Australia by the George Institute for Global Health and the Menzies Research Institute in Tasmania tracked activity from more than 3,000 participants over 15 years.
The study’s results were clear: increasing the number of steps a person takes is linked to living longer. And while on the surface that might seem like good common sense, looking closer at the data tells an even more compelling story.
A sedentary person who increased their steps from 1,000 to 3,000 a day, five days a week, had a 12% lower mortality rate. By further increasing to 10,000 steps a day, seven days a week, participants were found to have a 46% lower mortality risk.
The average age of participants in the study was 59, showing there’s never a bad time to get active, even if you aren’t already – staying fit and healthy isn’t just a young man’s game, and by doing something as simple as walking you can increase your overall health and prolong your life.
NHS health guidelines echo the importance of physical activity. To stay healthy or improve health, the NHS recommends older adults aged 65 and over should be active daily and aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week.
Increasing your physical activity is as simple as taking a walk around the block or through your local park; exercise doesn’t need to be complicated and can be done whenever works best for you – you can schedule in a morning walk, take a stroll with a loved one after dinner or even walk to work or the shops instead of taking the car.
Count your steps
Setting a goal and monitoring progress is a great way to increase your physical activity and stay motivated to continue doing so.
The rise of pedometers or step counters has met the growing appetite for personal health data; wearing a step counter like the Fitbit or Jawbone is a simple way to keep track of how much walking you do in a day and track your progress over time.
Many of the best step counters also have an app or website where you can track additional metrics like sleep patterns or the foods you eat each day.
They come in a variety of sizes – some clip discreetly to your pocket or sleeve, while others can be worn around your wrist for convenience. There’s advantages to both; if you’re forgetful, a wrist step counter can also double as a watch. If you prefer to keep your health and fitness goals private, the clip-on step counters are lightweight and discreet with a long battery life.
10,000 steps works out to roughly the equivalent of five miles, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go on a long trek each day to hit that number.
According to the NHS, the average Briton walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day, meaning you’re likely already part way there most days. By changing a few routines – such as walking instead of driving, parking further away, taking the stairs and meeting a friend for a stroll instead of a coffee – you can sneak in some extra steps and walk your way to a healthier lifestyle.
So tell us: what do you think about step counters? How many steps do you think you take each day? Let us know in the comments below!