Walking This Many Steps Daily Has Huge Benefits For People Who Sit All Day

A new study says you can combat the harm that comes from a sedentary life.

It’s well known that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health. It increases your risk of heart disease, decreases your muscle strength and is linked to certain kinds of cancer.

Roughly 80% of jobs in the U.S. are sedentary, according to research published by the American Heart Association, meaning, this is a big problem for many people. You likely can’t just quit your sedentary job, and, even if you did, you’d probably just end up with another job where you sit in front of a computer all day.

So, what can you do to combat all of the bad that comes from a sedentary life? Walk more, according to a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The study found that walking 9,000 to 10,500 steps combats many of the negatives that happen when you sit all day.

The study was made up of 72,174 people who wore movement trackers for seven days. Their sedentary time and movement time were both tracked. The average age of the participants was 61 with an average sedentary time of 10.6 hours each day.

Researchers found that those who walked between 9,000 and 10,500 steps daily had a 39% overall lower mortality risk and decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease by 21%. About 50% of these benefits came from walking between 4,000 and 4,500 steps each day.

But, don’t fret if you can’t reach this step count daily. A lower risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease was also seen for people who walked at least 2,200 steps each day.

Researchers followed up with study participants after seven years. During that time, there were 1,633 deaths, and 6,190 people experienced cardiovascular events.

This study did have a few limitations, it is unknown if other factors, like diet or other habits, impacted the results during the 7-year follow-up.

Additionally, while a higher step count may be associated with a lower risk of death and cardiovascular disease, this study was observational, so the exact relationship is unknown.

Walking between 9,000 and 10,500 steps daily saw the biggest increase in mortality rate and cardiovascular disease.
Maskot via Getty Images
Walking between 9,000 and 10,500 steps daily saw the biggest increase in mortality rate and cardiovascular disease.

There are several things you can do to increase your daily step count.

If you have a sedentary job, it can be challenging to get your daily step count up to 9,000 or 10,500. But, experts say there are many ways to walk even just a little more each day.

To make your walk more fun — and capitalize on the benefits of social interaction and walking — you can go for a stroll with a friend or neighbor. “You’ll each hold each other accountable to developing a walking habit and sticking to it,” Dr. Tamanna Singh, co-director of the sports cardiology center at Cleveland Clinic, previously told HuffPost.

Or, you could designate a certain podcast or audiobook as something you only listen to on your walks — “It’ll get you excited to go on a walk, and [you’ll] get the ‘reward’ of listening to your favorite thing,” Singh said.

You can also seek out walking paths that bring you joy, whether that’s stepping out in your favorite part of your city or strolling along a local nature path.

If you don’t have time to get outside for your daily walk, you can employ some tactics to get your steps indoors, too.

If you find that you don’t have the time to commit to a walk at your local park or hiking trail, you can follow a few guidelines to get in your steps in your home.

“What I typically tell people is to find either a loop within the house that goes through consecutive rooms or the longest straight distance, which is usually a hallway,” Dr. Aaron Baggish, a professor of sports science at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, previously told HuffPost.

Once you designate an area in your home for indoor walking, call a friend, put on some music or turn on a podcast and start walking. Baggish told HuffPost you can easily get in a 20- or even 30-minute indoor walk this way.

Catherine Hagan Vargo, a physical therapist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, previously told HuffPost that you can also use the stairs in your home for a walking workout. “If you get fatigued walking up and down one flight upstairs, that’s enough for now,” Vargo said. You can build up your endurance as you do this workout more and more, starting with one or two reps and increasing with time.

If your home doesn’t allow for this kind of indoor walking, you can also consider getting a desk treadmill, which can help you increase your daily step count while sending emails or filling out spreadsheets.

Whether you choose a walking pad, a nature walk or stroll through the city with your best friend, there is no wrong way to get in more steps. And, if you can’t reach that 9,000 or 10,500 number, that is OK, too. Anything is better than nothing.

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