NOTeD: Stuck Inside? Keep Walking!

Take an Extra 4,000 Steps a Day to Lower Your Risk of Dying Prematurely
Tom Rifai, MD, FACP
Newspaper with headline,

IN TODAY’S MEDICAL NEWS: Take an Extra 4,000 Steps a Day to Lower Your Risk of Dying Prematurely

This New York Times article asks, does Coronavirus have you stuck inside? Keep walking, even indoors. The paper touts a recent study, but does taking more steps really help longevity?

It is becoming increasingly clear that yes, it does. In fact, it’s even integrated into activity guidelines like those from the American Diabetes Association, which encourages type 2 diabetics (and I would say all of us) to limit continuous sitting to no more than 30 minutes whenever possible, with intervening forms of light movement for a few minutes to enhance metabolic health.

This is not the first, but it is the most recent study to show that accumulating steps of any intensity and above the American average (for instance going from 4000 steps up to 8000 steps) has a notable effect on reducing mortality risk.

Bottom Line: Should we take more steps, even if stuck inside?

While we may not be able to hit the gyms and do the type of physical activity we truly prefer, at this time it is essential to. I understand that every little bit of movement counts, whether it’s with your kids, going up and down the stairs, pacing around the basement while taking a business call, and of course using in-home exercise if you have equipment, or leveraging apps and available online videos.

Also, don’t avoid going outside and open spaces for some fresh air and brisk physical activity. Just make sure to do it only with the family/people you’ve been at home with, or solo practicing the appropriate physical distancing (6 feet or more) from others.

One final note: I specifically said “physical distancing.” We should do our best to avoid social distancing in terms of connecting with others whether by phone or other means of video communication. In other words, connect with people as much as you can – electronically. As noted at the end of this video, my most recent “Walk n talk with Dr Tom Tuesday!” video, I have even been “exercising” giving people “electronic hugs.” Try it, it actually feels pretty good.

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