How taking 2,000 extra steps could save your life

I’m always telling you that, if you do nothing else, at least take a walk after dinner every night.

I’ve been accused of overstating the value of this ritual before. But the fact of the matter is that every little step really does count. And the results of a recent study do an effective job of showing just how much of a difference your daily stroll can make.

This research looked at data from over 9,000 adults from 40 different countries. All were participants in the NAVIGATOR trial, which was designed to study the prevention of heart disease in glucose impaired subjects.

The volunteers were participating in a weight loss program that included regular exercise. They received pedometers to wear for a week at the beginning of the study, as well as a year later.

And let’s just say that the numbers clocked on those little gadgets were revealing.

Specifically, researchers found that for every extra 2,000 steps that high-risk subjects took on average, they benefited from an 8 percent lower risk of heart disease by the end of the year. And this is after accounting for other contributing factors like diet and history of heart problems.

This research appeared in The Lancet. And it’s solid proof that just 20 minutes of walking at a moderate pace–the commitment it would take to squeeze in 2,000 extra steps a day–has the potential to save your life.

I hate to say I told you so. But, well… I did.

“Association between change in daily ambulatory activity and cardiovascular events in people with impaired glucose tolerance (NAVIGATOR trial): a cohort analysis.” Lancet. 2013 Dec 19.