Walking just 3,000 extra steps a day leads to additional medical benefits

A new research study published by the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Iowa shows that walking just 3,000 extra steps per day can contribute to lower blood pressure and overall better health.

The study noted an average of 80% of Americans suffer from high blood pressure, which is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, morbidity and mortality.

“Lifestyle modification is often the first line of treatment for high blood pressure management, with increasing physical activity a critical component,” the study noted. “Unfortunately, despite the known the benefits of physical activity for health, barriers often exist to performing regular structured physical activity, such as gym-based exercise for older adults.”

Personally, you’ll never catch me in a gym. I have too many horrible memories of being abused by bullies and shamed by others in a gym setting. However, according to the study, I have an alternative that may not be as ideal, but still offers wonderful benefits.

“Structured physical activity, however, may not be necessary to reduce blood pressure, as previous studies in sedentary adults have suggested that lifestyle physical activity may be just as effective,” the study added. “The most common lifestyle physical activity in older adults is walking, which is accessible, inexpensive, and easy to implement for public health impact.”

I agree. I have been walking between two and three miles a day since the middle of June. My weight is down more than 40 points, along with cholesterol and blood pressure.

The study said walking 10,000 steps per day is a common public health goal. However, it may be unrealistic and difficult to achieve in older adults, who traditionally have lower daily step counts.

For comparison, there are about 2,500 steps per mile. Consequently, walking four miles a day would be difficult, if not impossible, for many seasoned citizens to achieve, especially as they got older.

The good news is the study found walking an extra 3,000 steps per day, five days per week works to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure in older adults with hypertension.

In addition, previous studies suggested increasing steps per day to meet physical activity guidelines, irrespective of the absolute number of total steps, can confer health benefits such as reducing blood pressure in postmenopausal women and middle-aged women with obesity.

“These results could have important implications for healthcare professionals looking for a simple yet effective strategy that can be delivered broadly via e-health technology to reduce blood pressure,” researchers explained.

The full study is available at www.mdpi.com.