Going the distance to control weight

Book-laden shop shelves often promote fad diets and healthy eating for the loss and control of weight, but how many of them actually motivate people to become more physically active? When they
do, most books focus on higher impact activity, which can add undue stress to joints and bones.

Thankfully, most people recognise that walking does wonders for their health. The question is, however, how many steps must be taken to actually make a difference? An international team of
researchers conducted a study and established preliminary guidelines advising how many steps people should take each day to control their weight. The findings were published in the January
issue of Journal of Physical Activity & Health.

In order to assess the number of steps that should be taken, the 14 researchers, hailing from Australia, Canada, France, Sweden and the United States, used the same pedometer (Yamax/KeepWalking
LS2000) and identical methods for determining the Body Mass Index (BMI). The BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fat for the majority of people. It is also used to screen for weight
categories that could trigger health problems.

The sample comprised 3,127 healthy adults (2,151 women and 976 men), ranging in age from 19 to 94, with a mean age of 47. ‘We have put together recommendations for different age groups, but the
material is more robust when it comes to women,’ explains Anders Raustorp from the University of Kalmar in Sweden, a partner in the study. The researchers found that for women up to the age of
50, and for men in general, taking 10,000 steps each day does not successfully control weight.

Dr Raustorp previously worked on studies introducing the pedometer in Sweden. In one such study, the researchers found that people who established goals and maintained a journal of successive
increases over a four-month period actually boosted their activity by 27%. In a nutshell, setting and meeting one’s targets breed success.

The Swedish researcher remarked that the targets are based on recommendations developed by high-quality pedometers, particularly those without filter functions. It should be noted that the
researchers believe more research is needed for the preliminary guidelines to be regarded as definitive.

The study shows that the recommended daily steps for women aged 18 to 40 wishing to control their weight should be 12,000 per day; 11,000 steps for those between 40 and 50 at; 10,000 for those
aged 50 to 60; and 8 000 for those aged 60 and over. Men aged 18 to 50 should take 12,000 steps a day, while those aged 50 should do 11,000.

For further information:
Journal of Physical Activity & Health

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