New research suggests walking with intensity has health benefits

Nicole Drapela, Multimedia Contributor

Oregon State University assistant professor John Schuna Jr and fellow researchers recently released a study analyzing the relationship between step-based movement and related heart health risks.

The researchers used data from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They found that step-based movement in combination with less time spent sitting for extended periods, shows a positive correlation in common heart health risk factors.

“Put simply, higher levels of steps/day or peak 30-minute cadence were associated with lower values for BMI, glycohemoglobin, blood pressure, and triglycerides, while the same measures (steps/day and peak 30-minute cadence) were associated with higher HDL cholesterol levels (this is “good” cholesterol),” Schuna explained in an email.

Schuna goes on to tell how these results can be achieved and what positive fitness behaviors to engage in.

“In terms of the practical application for the general public, including students at OSU, our findings would suggest individuals should accumulate a sufficient daily volume of physical activity (e.g., 10,000+ steps/day), while also focusing on spending time at higher cadences (e.g., ≥ 30 minutes at or above 100 steps/min) and limiting daily sedentary behavior (i.e., time spent at 0 steps/min),” Schuna said.

Schuna has hopes that the findings from the study will encourage students to participate in healthy lifestyle choices.

“We hope that our findings further reinforce the importance of a physically active lifestyle that includes sufficient amounts of daily physical activity while also limiting sedentary behavior to the extent this is possible,” Schuna said.

While he doesn’t generally set step goals of 10,000, OSU junior Carlos Fitten finds that he still hits this number and exceeds it on occasion. Fitten likes to use a Fitbit Charge HR for tracking some of his exercise needs.

“It informs me daily of the steps I take, how many flights of stairs I climb, my heart rate, how many calories I’ve burned, and the distance I’ve traveled in any particular workout or just simply throughout the day,” Fitten said. “Using the Fitbit is a great way to keep track of my exercise”.

10,000 steps a day is a great fitness goal, yet it could sometimes be an unrealistic one for students. Balancing school, work, and a personal life could certainly help an individual keep active, though it could also certainly be exhausting. Finding a balance and developing active approaches to daily exercise can help with keeping up the step count.

“There is no magic bullet when it comes to counting steps,” Schuna said. “Some people find it useful to wear a wearable device (e.g., Fitbit, Apple Watch, etc.) as this provides them with a reminder to accumulate steps. Other people find it helpful to do little things like parking the car at the edge of the parking lot while getting groceries, [or] taking walks during scheduled work break.”

Besides walking from point A to point B, there are ways to creatively reach a step goal, be it 10,000 a day, or some other personal goal.

Alexus Austin, a former New Media Specialist for Dixon Recreation this past 2015-16 academic year, offers up some creative methods to reach a step count goal.

“Find ways to be active with friends or try out a club like ballroom dance or Judo,” Austin said. “Really, just find something you enjoy enough to do consistently, finding a fitness class you enjoy, or playing Pokemon Go.”

Fitten, as well, offers up similar advice.

“Get involved in games with friends or go for a workout at Dixon and just be active. Playing catch with a football or Frisbee, soccer or just jogging with a friend.” Fitten said. “There is no reason to be discouraged about the 10,000 steps goal. Go at your own pace and just be active with more intensity in less time. 30 minutes a day works well too, just make it intense and above all, fun.”

During her frequent trips to Dixon, Austin has seen a lot of people wear Fitbits or similar products.

“I think many students are starting to take an active role in their health at this point in their lives,” said Austin. “At the end of the day, I really just think it’s important to be active in general and if you have certain goals you want to reach then you can focus on finding specific activities for those targets.”

As students engage in an active lifestyle, it is beneficial to have many resources available. This may be in the form of an open gym, an exercise partner, a fitness tracking device, or even a smartphone app. Creating a personal fitness plan is a great way for a student to become involved, make goals, and achieve the results they want.

Reaching 10,000 steps a day is a great goal. Keep it fresh by splicing in different activities to keep moving and keep engaged.

“Steps/day was strongly and consistently related to a number of cardiometabolic biomarkers in favorable directions. This helps reaffirm the potential public health importance of this measure,” said Schuna. “The findings only serve to reaffirm my belief in the health benefits associated with living a physically active lifestyle.”

Counting steps and setting a personalized daily step goal is a good place to start. Modify fitness goals and practices to meet personal needs and reduce heart health risks.

Even little steps can lead to bigger health improvements.

“Stay active and be consistent,” said Austin.

Was this article helpful?