Life is a little weird these days, no? For example, when I woke up to bright sunshine this morning, I found it a little disheartening. The good weather was a warning sign that read: don’t go out for your daily walk.
On rainy and overcast days, it’s easy to get outside because there’s no one else on the streets. On the sunnier, warmer days, people seem to forget about social distancing.
But leaving those steps on the table can have some serious health consequences. In fact, missing out on 4,000 steps per day could add a big boost to your chances of dying from heart disease and virtually every other illness-related death.
A new study published in March in JAMA showed that steps taken, regardless of intensity, are tied to a longer life. Researchers looked at how much, and at what speed, a large cross-section of Americans moved every day, and if it impacted mortality risk.
After controlling for several factors like weight, age, gender, diet, and more, they found that people who averaged 8,000 steps per day were about half as likely to have died from heart disease, or any other illness, than those who took 4,000 or less.
People who took 12,000 or more were 65% less likely to have died than those taking 4,000 or less. It made no difference how people got those steps, meaning it did not matter whether a person ran, jogged, or walked slowly.
Which is great news if you’re in self-isolation.
Although the preference is surely to get outside for a walk, it just isn’t possible for some. But that doesn’t mean you can’t schedule in walk times to stroll through your house, yard, or apartment.
For example, upon waking and seeing the sun this morning, I determined an outdoor walk might not be in the cards—at least during daylight hours. So, I started my day with 2,000 steps around my apartment. I budgeted for another 2,000 by noon, and more even later.
The 2,000 steps took roughly 20 minutes at an indoor pace.
Being indoors is not ideal, but it should not limit your ability to maintain an active and heart-healthy lifestyle. Achieving 8,000 steps per day, or more, may help boost immunity, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk for heart attack and overall death risk.