Want to improve heart health?

It’s as easy as taking a walk

walking in snowContributed by Umara Raza, MD

Good news for people with prediabetes: you can cut your chance of heart attack and stroke simply by taking a walk! Prediabetes, also known as impaired glucose tolerance or IGT, is a driver of heart disease that affects 79 million Americans and 344 million people worldwide. The ground-breaking research shows that increasing your daily exercise by just 2,000 steps daily—roughly 20 minutes of moderately paced walking—can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by eight percent. And best of all, these benefits are seen regardless of your body weight or the starting level of activity.

A little about the study

Dr. Thomas Yates, from the University of Leicester in the UK, analyzed data collected from 9,306 adults worldwide with IGT or at least one cardiovascular risk factor. Study participants wore pedometers to track their daily steps. The team recorded the number of steps for each person at the beginning of the study (before they were asked to increase their activity) and then they were followed for six years to see what, if any, cardiovascular events occurred after they increased their step counts. There were 530 cardiovascular events among the participants and, not surprisingly, the more steps a person took each day, the less his or her risk of these events.

Every little bit helps

The main point I want you to take away from this study is that it doesn’t take much to reduce the risk of heart disease. If you can’t walk 2,000 steps, then walk 1,000. Or just take a walk around the block. In other words, get moving! Any increase in your physical activity level is going to have a positive affect on your heart.

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