10,000 Steps Toward Better Health: July 29, 2014

Rebecca Columbus walks…

“First thing in the morning, take the dogs out. The last thing at night after dinner,” says Columbus.

A lot.

“Probably between two and three hours,” says Columbus.

Hitting the pavement doesn’t require a gym membership or specially training. But experts agree it’s one of the best steps you can take for your health.

“We have such an epidemic of weight problems and chronic disease with diabetes and high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. And so this is one easy way to really get back on track with your health,” says Dr. Sal Lacagnina, who is the vice president of health and wellness for Lee Memorial Health System.

Any walking, despite distance or speed, is a good start. But one health stat might stop you in your tracks.

“The American Heart Association recommendation is 10,000 steps a day for most people that are physically fit. So when you think about that, that is a lot of walking, it’s five miles a day,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

In the normal course of a day - living and working - people take between 900 and 3,000 steps. Making it nearly impossible to get to the 10,000 milestone without intentional effort.

“Make every excuse to do something physical during the day. Just walk the halls instead of sitting behind your desk on a conference call. A lot of people are doing some other interesting things like doing ‘walking meetings’. So instead of sitting down they have everybody walk,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

Stepping away from routines is the key for Rebecca.

“I work on the second floor so I go up and down the stairs. I make a point of, you know, instead of calling somebody downstairs, I get up and I walk down,” says Columbus.

If this is your first time around the block, don’t push for the 10,000. Use a step tracker to see how you do on different days. Take your highest daily total and make it your goal for the following week.

“People that have a sedentary job and a sedentary life actually live a decreased number of years. So being sedentary is a significant health risk,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

Another reason to get up and move.