In this election season, can we all agree on one thing? Walking is good. I have yet to see a study that suggests that walking is bad…unless of course, you have a bleeding foot, a broken leg or a kitten strapped to your foot. Many studies have shown the benefits of walking such as preventing and controlling:

  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Weaknesses in your bones and muscles.
  • Mood or memory problems.
  • Balance and coordination issues.

If we all agree that walking is beneficial, then how come Americans just don’t seem to be walking enough? A study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that in 2003 Americans averaged only 5,117 steps a day, behind the 9,695 for Western Australians, the 9,650 for the Swiss and the 7,168 for the Japanese, and far below the 10,000 steps per day that many fitness experts recommend. Now there’s debate over the rationale for the somewhat arbitrary 10,000 steps per day threshold. (The number came from the 1960s, when Japanese researchers led by Dr. Yoshiro Hatano felt that it was a good number for which to aim, and Japanese manufacturers created the first commercial pedometer, called the manpo-meter, with manpo meaning 10,000 steps in Japanese.) You’d probably be OK if you did 9,999 steps. Regardless, Americans did not seem to be walking enough over a decade ago, and there’s nothing to suggest that things have improved dramatically. Those who disagree may want to take an Uber around outside to see how many people are walking…or ask their friends on Facebook.

In the words of 4 Non Blondes, what’s up? (Interestingly, there also seems to be fewer hit songs about walking these days.) Getting Americans to walk more will be one of the major topics discussed in this Wednesday’s Innovation Summit Aimed to Move American Health Across the Spectrum of Physical Activity hosted by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program, Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA. Speakers will include the 19th U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, five-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Missy Franklin, two-time Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses, Fitbit chief business officer Woody Scal and ESPN reporter (and director of the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program) Tom Farrey.

Source: Forbes
October 3, 2016
By Bruce Y. Lee, image courtesy of Shutterstock