U.S. Behind Other Countries In Walking
A study by the University of Tennessee and published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that Americans in general walk about half the amount that people in other developed countries do. The researchers looked at step studies done of Americans and compared them to similar step studies done in Australia, Japan, and Switzerland.
To their shock, they found that Americans walk on average only 5117 steps a day — people who walk 5000 steps or less a day are considered to have a sedentary lifestyle. Australians walked 9695 steps, and the Swiss walked 9650, almost double the amount Americans walked. The Japanese clocked in at a healthy 7168 steps.
The difference in the amount Americans walk and that of other countries may be one reason why obesity rates are notably higher in the U.S. than in the other developed countries studied. 34% of Americans are obese, whereas only 16% of people in Australia, 8% in Switzerland, and 3% in Japan suffer from obesity. The step rates confirmed that Americans live, on average, sedentary or close to sedentary lifestyles, while people in other countries live what is considered to be an active lifestyle (10 000 steps per day is considered to be a healthy level of activity).
Americans cannot use the argument that they drive more than people in other countries, as Australians drive almost as much as Americans, yet are far more active. The study shows that being active is a matter of choice, and the researchers expressed hope that the results would encourage more Americans to make that choice.
Ways to Walk More Daily
If you want to increase the amount of walking you do on a daily basis, you can start by walking in chunks — you don't necessarily need to do all your walking in one long workout. Just by changing a few habits, you can increase the number of steps you take:
- Park farther from work or store — Instead of trying to find the closest parking spot, park in the far corner of the parking lot. Not only are spaces more plentiful, but walking a longer distance from your car to your work or to the store helps increase the number of steps you take every day. You might even consider parking down the street to increase the distance you have to walk.
- Use a pedometer — Seeing how many steps you're actually taking, and setting a reachable goal for the day, is a good way to encourage yourself to take more steps. When you see how little exercise you're getting in an easily quantified manner, you may be more motivated to get moving.
- Make walking a habit — Whether it's an early morning brisk walk or an after-dinner stroll, make walking part of your routine, something you can't go without.
- Pace at work or at home — Get up and pace around your home or office when you are talking on the phone, watching TV, or talking to your spouse.
- Go out — Whether you're more motivated by a hike in the woods or a walk at the local shopping mall (but do try to walk briskly), get out of your house and do something you enjoy. You won't even notice that you're exercising while doing it.