As we all know, technology has become increasingly more accessible, and while at times it can be frustrating, it has also proved to be very supportive toward monitoring our health. In its simplest form, monitoring health can look like simply counting your daily steps through an app or a fitness band and this blog will explore some reasons why this task matters for working toward a more balanced lifestyle.
Research has provided consistent results linking better health and well-being, to walking more, however, the ‘ideal’ amount of steps per day is a long debate! The most popular target number is 10,000 steps per day, however it is often seen as a myth that reaching this number is required in order to see the benefits of tracking your steps.
A study conducted in the U.S.A tracked a group’s daily steps over three years (2003-2006), and continued to follow this group to study their mortality rate. It resulted that those who had a higher average of daily steps lived longer than those who had a low number of steps; this held true for different age groups and genders.
Dr. Lee et al., also conducted a similar study in 2019, finding that women in their 70s who managed to walk even at least 4.4k steps per day reduced their risk of premature death by 40%, when compared to those who walked 2.7k steps or less. So, as we can see, there is no correct number of steps, but it is certain that being active throughout the day is closely linked to leading a longer, healthier life!
Walking has also been linked to lowering the harmful effects of sitting down for a long time. It is estimated that on average, adults spend 11 hours per day sitting down, which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. A study conducted on 8000 individuals found that those who switched 30 minutes of sitting with 30 minutes of light exercise would lower their risk of premature death by at least 17%. This included walking and doing daily chores that require the person to move around! And to encourage you even more, take note that these benefits were mainly seen in those individuals who have a low level of activity overall throughout the week!
This means, that if you are one of many who feels they don’t find time for lengthy workouts and going to the gym…simply tracking your steps might make you realise you are still being active enough to benefit your overall health – including lowering your risk of certain types of cancer, type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cholesterol!
On a final note, moving around not only benefits our physical health but also our mental health, including the ability to focus more and deal better with a stressful day! And remember, a simple switch from taking the elevator to taking the stairs and not worrying if the car is parked a bit further away is already a great place to start seeing the benefits of being more active
Michaela Pace is a Psychology graduate from the University of Malta. She has worked with children and adolescents and adults within the social sector and currently works as a Triage Officer and Volunteer Manager with Willingness Team, while pursuing a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy.
Potential Effects of Replacing Sedentary Time With Short Sedentary Bouts or Physical Activity on Mortality: A National Cohort Study. Diaz KM, Duran AT, Colabianchi N, Judd SE, Howard VJ, Hooker SP. Am J Epidemiol. 2018 Dec 14. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwy271. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID:30551177.