Friday, October 22, 2010

A Walk a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?

Surprise, surprise! Americans walk less than everybody else.

A recent pedometer study found that Americans walked on average 5,117 steps each day. The study tracked the steps of 1,136 adults around the U.S. who wore pedometers for two days in 2003. The results were then compared to similar pedometer studies in Switzerland, Japan, and Australia. The data showed that the Japanese walked 7,168 steps, the Swiss totaled 9,650 steps, and Australians racked up approximately 9,695 steps each day.

Although it might feel impossible to “catch up” to other countries, the difference between 5,117 steps (America) and 7,168 steps (Japan) is about 30 minutes of walking time. So, while Americans generally lead sedentary lives, a short walk at the end of the day can push us to a more respectable number of daily steps.

A gender gap was also detected in the study, indicating that men walk more than women. The data showed that American men, with an average daily step count of 5,340, are moving more than women, who averaged only 4,912 steps a day. This data surprised me because so much of the health industry seems to be dominated by women who are eager to get in shape and change the way they look. Apparently, vanity is not encouraging women to walk more than their male counterparts. So, what could be the cause of this difference? Are women often in uncomfortable shoes that are not conducive to taking the stairs or walking to the water cooler? Do ladies spend more time in the car (either commuting to work or driving children)?

No matter the reasoning behind it, it’s important for ALL Americans to increase their daily number of steps in order to reap the heart-healthy rewards.

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