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People who hit their 10,000 steps ‘suffer less heart attacks and broken bones’ 

Why you should count those steps: Using pedometers ‘creates a habit that can last for years and reduces the risk of heart attacks and broken bones’

  • Study participants who tracked their steps were less likely to have a heart attack
  • After receiving a pedometer, they were still active four years later
  • Researchers said walking can curb physical inactivity which is bad for health 

Counting how many steps you take each day might seem like a flash in the pan fad.

But scientists have found a short spell using the step counting devices can create a habit that lasts for years – and greatly reduce your risk of a heart attack or broken bones.

People who spent 12 months counting their steps had still got the exercise bug four years later, researchers said.

Counting steps increases the amount people walk and can protect their bones and heart, according to a study 

Scientists at St Georges University Hospital in Tooting, south London, carried out an experiment in which 1,300 people were encouraged to count their steps, keep a diary, and talk to a practice nurse about walking more.

The nurse would suggest simple measures to increase exercise, such as getting off the bus one stop early, or going for a walk around the park once a week.

The people encouraged to exercise with pedometers had started off on around 7,300-7,500 steps a day, roughly the same as those not encouraged to exercise.

By the end of the 12-month trial, those encouraged to walk extra had added an average 600 more steps each day.

This was an increase of an extra 90 minutes of moderate exercise a week, up to one hour 20 minutes a week.

Incredibly, the habit had stuck and even four years later they were still getting more exercise than the control group.

The researchers calculate this simple intervention prevented large numbers of heart attacks, strokes and fractures.

Measured over 1,000 people, the extra five minutes a day of exercise would prevent 15 cases of heart attacks and strokes and 35 cases of fractures during the study period, the researchers said.

Professor Tess Harris who led the research said: ‘An extra half an hour walking a week is not much to ask but it can really reduce your risk of a heart attack, fracture or a strokes. It works out at just five minutes a day.’ 

The extra five minutes a day exercise cut the risk of heart attack by two per cent and the risk of fractures by four per cent.

Professor Harris added: ‘With each stage of these trials we have seen that simple short-term pedometer-based walking interventions can produce an increase in step-counts and in the time that people spend doing moderate intensity physical activity; and now we can see corresponding long-term health effects. 

‘This type of intervention can have a long-lasting effect and should be used more widely to help address the public health physical inactivity challenge.’ 

She said that preventing large numbers of heart attacks, strokes and fractures could save the NHS a large amount of money, although they did not calculate how much in their study.

The research was published in PLOS Medicine.  

HOW MUCH EXERCISE DO YOU NEED TO DO?

To stay healthy, adults aged 19 to 64 should try to be active daily and should do:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking every week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Or:

  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Or:

  • a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week – for example, 2 x 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of brisk walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

A good rule is that 1 minute of vigorous activity provides the same health benefits as 2 minutes of moderate activity.

One way to do your recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes on 5 days every week.

All adults should also break up long periods of sitting with light activity.

Source: NHS 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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