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Spring’s mild temperatures invite us to get ready for summer by getting outdoors and being active! But, for many of us, fitting the recommended amount of exercise into our busy days seems impossible. Often, however, simply starting a walking program can help you feel better and meet your daily physical activity requirements. We hope the following information will serve as inspiration for taking that first step into summer – and better health.

What are the benefits?

Strong evidence supports the many benefits of regular physical activity. Benefits include:

  • Lower risk of:
    • Early death
    • Heart disease
    • Stroke
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • High blood pressure
    • Adverse blood lipid profile
    • Metabolic syndrome
    • Colon and breast cancers
  • Prevention of weight gain
  • Weight loss when combined with diet
  • Improved cardiovascular and muscular fitness
  • Prevention of falls
  • Reduced depression
  • Better cognitive function (older adults)

What are the recommendations for physical activity?

Adults aged 18-64 years old should do two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or one hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

10,000 Steps Per Day Matches Exercise Recommendations

For most people, 10,000 steps per day is around five miles worth of walking during the day. Unless you have an active job, such as a waitress or nurse, it is difficult to log that by routine daily activity. Most people achieve it by performing sustained walks or runs, in intervals of at least 10 minutes at a time, 3 times a day, five times a week to give you a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise. That equals the minimum weekly exercise recommendation in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

If 10,000 steps a day seems unlikely for you, research has shown if you add just 2000 more steps a day to your regular activities, you may never gain another pound. To lose weight, add in more steps. The important thing is that you get started.

2,000 steps is the rough equivalent of one mile. If you have a pedometer or fitness tracker, record your average number of steps for three days to determine your regular activity level, then strive to add 2,000 steps per day to this amount.

If you don’t have a pedometer to count your steps, measure your progress in minutes. To determine your equivalent time for 2,000 steps, just measure off a mile distance and time yourself when completing this distance. Strive to add this time to your regular daily activity level.

Remember, the hardest part for most of us is taking that first step. After that, it’s just a walk in the park!