Walking to lose weight? Study reveals exactly how many steps you should take
So how many steps should you be walking daily if you want to lose weight? 8,600 is the magic number, according to recent research.
A study by the US's National Institutes of Health followed more than 6,000 patients over four years and the results showed that walking at least 8,600 steps a day helps prevent weight gain in adults.
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Data shows that adults tend to gain weight progressively through middle age – and every year the average person gains between one to two pounds.
Although that number seems low, it can accumulate and lead to obesity over time.
The study also took lifestyle, diet and sleep habits into consideration.
Participants were provided with activity trackers, which they wore for at least 10 hours a day. That information was analysed by researchers over multiple years.
It found that those who watched television for five or more hours per day and slept fewer than six hours per night were typically more likely to be overweight.
And those with healthy eating patterns – a high-fibre, low-fat diet – were statistically less likely to gain weight, and more likely to see a decrease in waist circumference when combined with the 8,600 steps.
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The study revealed that the risk for developing hypertension and diabetes also plateaued after 8,000 to 9,000 steps – meaning that walking has great benefits for preventing chronic diseases and conditions.
Higher steps can lower blood glucose and insulin resistance, reducing the risk of developing diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, diabetes and depression.
Sleep apnea and acid reflux are known to respond well to weight loss, which can reduce pressure on the throat and stomach.
And exercise is, of course, well known to be a great mood-booster and treatment for depression.
The research echoes the benefits found in previous studies, some even suggesting that the speed you walk at is just as important for your health as getting in a high number of steps a day.
Read more: How fast you walk is more important than doing 10,000 daily steps
Unsure how many steps you’re notching up a day? There are plenty of activity trackers on the market that can help.
The most important part of tracking your steps is to be kind to yourself. There will be days when you don’t reach your goal, and days when you exceed it.
Trying to reach 8,600 steps can be a good number to aim for, but if you're consistently not quite managing it, try re-assessing your goal. All movement adds up, and as research shows, the more steps, the better.
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