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Step It Up - Study finds Americans fall behind activity levels in other countries

Saturday, October 30, 2010 by: Amelia Bentrup
Tags: Americans, exercise, health news

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(NewsTarget) On a daily basis, American adults take fewer steps each day than their counterparts in other developed nations. This finding was recently published in the October 2010 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The research team, led by Dr. David R. Bassett Jr, from the University of Tennessee Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sports Studies, used pedometers to track the number of steps taken for two consecutive days in 2003 by 1,136 adults in the United States. The study was compared with similar studies conducted in Switzerland, Western Australia and Japan. Its purpose was to analyze data regarding the number of steps taken each day and to find predictors on the basis of demographic characteristics.

The study found that on average Americans take approximately 5,117 steps per day. Males took more steps than females (5,340 versus 4,912 steps) and single people took more steps than those who were married (6,076 versus 4,793 steps). Widowed participants averaged the fewest steps each day (3,394 steps). Younger age, higher education level and lower body mass index were also associated with a greater number of steps taken each day.

When the results were compared with similar studies conducted in other countries, it was found that Americans lag far behind other nations in number of steps taken daily. Study participants in Western Australia averaged 9,695 steps each day; those in Switzerland averaged 9,650 steps each day; and the Japanese participants took 7,168 steps on average each day. While different methods were used to gauge steps taken in different countries, these results still suggest that American adults move far less than adults in other countries.

Basset states: "It's not surprising that Americans walk less than those in other countries, but it was kind of surprising to quantify it and find out how much less they walked. It was literally almost half."

These results may explain why Americans have higher rates of obesity than other countries. The United States has a 34% rate of obesity while Japan has a 3% rate, Australia has a 16% rate and Switzerland has an 8% obesity rate. The difference in number of steps taken daily between the United States and other countries is approximately 30-40 minutes of walking a day.

Increased physical activity is important not only in the prevention of obesity, but also in the prevention of metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes. An earlier study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that for every additional 1000 steps taken per day, there is a 10% decrease in risk of metabolic syndrome.

A person is considered sedentary if they take less than 5,000 steps each day. The results of this study show that many Americans are very close to having a sedentary lifestyle. It is generally recommended to take 10,000 steps a day for good health. One mile is approximately 2,000 steps; therefore, adding a mile or two of walking each day can do a lot towards bringing one closer to that goal of 10,000 steps a day.

Sources:
http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2...
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/the...
http://www.arthritistoday.org/news/americans...
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.a...
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20494233



About the author

Amelia Bentrup is the owner and editor of http://www.my-home-remedies.com a well-researched collection of natural home remedies. Discover natural cures for a variety of ailments and find specific information and safety guidelines for various herbs, vitamins, minerals and essential oils.


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