According to a new study from Brazil, 6,000 is the magic number for older women when it comes to health. While the health benefits of exercise, especially in older adults, are widely known and rarely doubted, the research team that performed this study found that the most effective way for older women to maintain their overall health is to take at least 6,000 steps every day.
This seemingly modest level of exercise can lower the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome (the situation in which a cluster of related symptoms like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a larger waist circumference increase the risk of heart disease).
This type of exercise has a long history of lowering risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and many other ailments. But, this study indicates that if women make exercise a habit, it has the direct power to improve their health. Taking 6,000 steps per day can happen while you are engaged in physical activity for the sake of improving health, or simply carrying out your normal lifestyle.
The study examined 292 women, 45 to 72 years of age. Each was equipped with a pedometer that recorded their daily steps. They also had health checks, including cholesterol and blood sugar level checks, and waist and hip measurement (to gauge fat build-up around the abdomen). Based on the numbers involved, the women who took 6,000 or more steps per day were considered officially “active” and those who took fewer labeled “inactive.”
Not surprisingly, active women were much less likely than the inactive ones to be obese, and have metabolic syndrome or diabetes. This result stayed the same, whether or not a woman had gone through menopause, and whether or not she used hormone therapy.
If you have a hard time imagining what 6,000 steps are, or if you don’t want to bother counting them, it represents walking about one hour a day.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
The Journey to Health Starts with 6,000 Steps
Colpani, V., et al., “Association between habitual physical activity and lower cardiovascular risk in premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women: a population-based study,” Menopause published online November 21, 2012.