What Should Your Step Count Goal Be?
Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke recommends the following based on research:
Classification of pedometer-determined physical activity in healthy adults:
1) Under 5000 steps/day may be used as a “sedentary lifestyle index”
2) 5,000-7,499 steps/day is typical of daily activity excluding sports/exercise and might be considered “low active.”
3) 7,500-9,999 likely includes some exercise or walking (and/or a job that requires more walking) and might be considered “somewhat active.”
4) 10,000 steps/day indicates the point that should be used to classify individuals as “active”.
5) Individuals who take more than 12,500 steps/day are likely to be classified as “highly active”.
In healthy adults, the hippocampus — a part of the brain important to the formation of memories — begins to atrophy around 55 or 60. Now are suggesting that the hippocampus can be modestly expanded, and improved, by nothing more than regular walking.
In a study published on Jan. 31 in
, researchers randomly assigned 120 healthy but sedentary men and women (average age mid-60s) to one of two groups. One group walked around a track three times a week, building up to 40 minutes at a stretch; the other did a variety of less aerobic exercises, including and resistance training with bands.
After a year, brain scans showed that among the walkers, the hippocampus had increased in volume by about 2 percent on average; in the others, it had declined by about 1.4 percent. Since such a decline is normal in older adults, “a 2 percent increase is fairly significant,” said the lead author, Kirk Erickson, a psychologist at the
. Both groups also improved on a test of spatial memory, but the walkers improved more.
While it is hard to generalize from this study to other populations, the researchers were delighted to learn that the hippocampus might expand with exercise. “And not that much exercise,” Dr. Erickson pointed out.
People don’t even have to join a gym, he noted. They just need shoes.
(Source: The New York Times)