Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Walking more - and measuring it

Here's a new, smaller entry in my self-quantifiers series. Alexis Madrigal, in The Atlantic, has posted a column about his new fitness program: walking. Yes, walking, that famous 10,000 steps per day to fitness, or at least health. According to Madrigal, that's about double the American number of just over 5000 steps per day.

So, how much do you have to walk every day to get up to those 10,000 steps? Ten thousand steps is about five miles (the distance varies with your height and the length of your stride). You don't have to set out to walk five miles to get that number of steps in. But you do have to make an effort to walk places that you might otherwise drive to. In New York City, that's not a problem, but in other places, where there are no sidewalks, it can be.

Madrigal puts it like this:
Americans lag behind the rest of the world in steps taken precisely because we travel so rarely for transportation's sake. Our cities are spread out (NYC excepted) and car culture is everywhere. A Centers for Disease Control study found that almost 40 percent of Americans had not walked for 10 straight minutes in the past week!

Even more interestingly, Gregg Furie of Yale Medical School led a study that showed that less than 25 percent or people walked or biked as a means to get from one place to another for more than 10 straight minutes in a given week. And yet, Furie's study found that people who engaged in "active transportation," as he calls it, had lower BMI, smaller waists, and lower odds of hypertension and diabetes.
I'll give him the last word: "when you have the opportunity to walk as a means to an end, take it."
 

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