There’s little doubt that getting physical exercise can help fight disease and keep you healthy, but a new study shows just how effective taking some additional steps each day can be. According to researchers from the UK, taking just 2,000 extra steps could decrease the risk of heart disease by 8%.
Impaired glucose tolerance is a precursor to type 2 diabetes and a risk factor for heart disease. Currently, the CDC estimates more than 79 million Americans are affected by impaired glucose tolerance and the number is steadily climbing across the globe.
The study found that just an extra 20 minutes of daily exercise, or walking an additional 2,000 steps, could reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by 8 %.
“People with IGT have a greatly increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” explains lead author Dr. Thomas Yates. “While several studies have suggested that physical activity is beneficially linked to health in those with IGT, this is the first study to specifically quantify the extent to which change in walking behaviour can modify the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular-related deaths.”
Meta-Analysis: Exercise better than Drugs at Treating Heart Disease
The study participants all had ICT and heart disease or at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Each received information on how to lessen their risks of cardiovascular disease including tips on weight loss, cutting fat intake, and increasing exercise activity.
Each participant was tracked for a period of one year, analyzing their diet and daily activity levels with the use of a pedometer.
Those who increased their exercise by walking an additional 2,000 steps per day had a 10% decreased risk of cardiovascular disease when compared with the previous year. Every 2,000 step decrease further was associated with another 8% decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Yates said the study results confirm that simple lifestyle changes can have considerable impact on heart disease risks. He concluded:
“These novel findings provide the strongest evidence yet for the importance of physical activity in high risk populations and will inform diabetes and cardiovascular disease prevention programmes worldwide.”