Walking has long been touted for its numerous health benefits. Hoofing it regularly can help strengthen your bones, build your muscles, boost your mood and trim your waistline. Now, a new study shows that walking can also prevent clogged arteries that might otherwise result in heart attack or stroke.
However, you cannot simply take leisurely strolls around the block a few times a week and hope to gain a healthy circulatory system. There are several significant factors to consider, including how often, how long and simply how you walk.
Studying People Who Sit
Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand studied 36 office workers in a randomized crossover trial that took place during four two-day sessions. Along with cycles of walking, the researchers noted periods of prolonged sitting and varying intervals of sitting, continuous walking and two-minute spurts of moderate walking.
In addition, they tracked participants’ blood levels of triglycerides, glucose and insulin responses. The researchers established previously that two minutes of brisk walking every half hour lowers blood glucose and insulin levels.
Are 10,000 Steps Enough?
While many experts have suggested aiming for 10,000 steps per day for optimum health, the Otago scientists discovered that short walking breaks combined with a longer stretch of continuous activity provide the greatest results.
Get Up And Move
According to the results of this study, people who sit for long periods may experience the greatest improvement in lipid levels when they walk briskly for two minutes every half hour in addition to a daily 30-minute walk.
“We believe there is an important health message here—the traditional half-hour block of moderate to vigorous activity is important, but so is limiting long periods of sitting by undertaking regular short bouts of activity throughout the day,” said Meredith Peddie, Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Otago.
“This approach, if maintained over months or years, may be enough to explain why individuals who regularly break up sedentary time have better cardio-metabolic health outcomes.”
[h/t: Science Daily]