I’ll never let up on my refrain that taking a walk is one of the best things you can do. And now that spring is here, it’s the perfect time for a reminder of the benefits you can get from a simple stroll. In fact, a brand new study should give you all the incentive you need to lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement.
Researchers in the UK looked at 298 older people, ages 60 to 75, and divided them into two groups: those who received standard care, and those who got four detailed physical activity consultations over three months. (The consultations combined behavior change techniques and an individual plan.) All the participants were also asked to keep an activity diary and wear a pedometer.
After three months, the intervention group averaged 1,037 more steps per day and 63 more minutes of physical activity per week than the control group. At 12 months, the difference between the groups was less—the intervention group averaged 609 more steps per day and 40 more minutes of physical activity per week than the controls. But even this modest difference led to some major health benefits. The intervention group’s risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes went down by 5.5 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively. Just from taking a few more steps each day.
It’s like I always say: Every little bit of activity adds up to big health benefits.
“A Primary Care Nurse-Delivered Walking Intervention in Older Adults: PACE (Pedometer Accelerometer Consultation Evaluation)-Lift Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial,” PloS Med, epub ahead of print 2/17/15