You’ve probably heard the saying “get your steps in”, and the recommendation to aim for 10,000 steps a day. When measured, 10,000 steps equates to 5 miles, which is a lot of walking. While it’s a great goal to walk 5 miles every day, it’s not realistically possible for everyone. So, how many daily steps should we be taking to stay healthy?
Exercise for Vascular Health
Believe it or not, the 10,000 daily step goal originated from a Japanese marketing campaign. Though the exact number was likely part of the campaign, there is some truth behind the benefits of taking so many steps. Studies have shown that walking 10,000 steps per day could reduce your risk of dementia by 50%. Even taking 4,000 daily steps (roughly 1.5 to 2 miles) showed a 25% decrease in risk for dementia.
Walking also promotes better vascular health. The Alzheimer’s Society lists vascular dementia as the second most common type of dementia, the first being Alzheimer’s disease. Vascular dementia is caused by serious conditions, like stroke or heart disease, which limit blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
Vascular dementia is a decrease of blood flow to the brain, usually from the small blood vessels in the brain, from smoking, aging, diabetes. We want to decrease inflammation.
Exercise is considered one of the best ways to decrease inflammation. And one of the easiest forms of exercise is walking. Walking 30 minutes a day, five times a week, significantly decreases your risk of atherosclerosis and vascular dementia.
Paul M. Anain, MD, FACS, Vascular Surgery, Endovascular Surgery
10,000 Steps or 30 Minutes of Exercise?
Cardio exercises, or any movement that gets your heart rate up, is great for your vascular health. For people who are not used to strenuous activity, low intensity exercises such as swimming, yoga, or cycling are great alternatives. Obesity and sedentary life greatly increase your chances of serious health complications, but committing 30 minutes to an activity or exercise you enjoy each day can improve your vascular health.
In addition to lack of exercise, poor diet and smoking also play a big role in your vascular health. Quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy diet, and cutting back on alcohol or eliminating it altogether are great first steps to improving vascular health.
It’s Never Too Late to Start a New Exercise Routine
If you are new to exercise, or haven’t been active for a long period of time, it’s important not to jump into a strenuous routine. Inexperienced training leads to injury, and will only set you back on your wellness journey. Always begin a workout with 5-10 minutes of stretching to warm up the muscles, and have water on hand to stay hydrated.
You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to have healthy arteries. Studies show sedentary adults who begin and stick with an exercise program have similar vascular health results after just 3 months to those of adults who had exercised consistently for years. If you are new to exercise, be sure to consult your physician before starting a new routine, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.
To learn more about our skilled vascular physicians, call (716) 837-2400. Schedule an appointment with one of our knowledgeable doctors, and take a step in the right direction to better vascular health.