Q: Do I really have to walk 10,000 steps a day? That’s a lot, all at once. I’m 75 and not really up for five miles without a stop (that’s what gives me 10,000 steps). What can I do? —Phyllis G., District of Columbia
A: First, congratulations on setting the goal of 10,000 steps a day for yourself. It’s a powerful way to maintain a healthy weight, muscle tone, cardiovascular fitness and good balance—that’s fall protection. The good news is that you can gain important health benefits from breaking up your steps over the course of the day.
A new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Conference 2021 used waist step-counters to track the walking habits of almost 17,000 women age 60 or older (average age 72) for four years. It’s produced some remarkable data on the benefits of shorter bursts of walking.
Making sure you’re not sedentary has great benefit. If you get around 4,500 steps a day in short bursts—that means you are not sitting around for hours at a time—you will increase your longevity significantly. And the researchers found that each increase of 1,000 steps a day over virtually no steps was associated with a 28 percent decrease in the risk of death during the study.
Adding in uninterrupted longer walks boosts the benefits. When the women added more than 2,000 uninterrupted steps to their daily routine, they gained a 32 percent decreased risk of death over the course of the study.
The women in this study wore a waist step-counter. We suggest you find one that suits you and wear it every day. You’ll discover how sedentary you are, and you can then work to increase your short bursts of activity to 4,500 steps daily. And then reach for 1,000 more each week till you are hitting 10,000 a day consistently. For tips, check out www.heart.org for “How to Move More Anytime Anywhere.”
Q: I gain weight in my hips, but my stomach stays pretty flat. Does that mean I am dodging the dangers that
are associated with belly fat, like cancer and heart disease? —Susan K., Tampa, Florida
A: Excess body fat, wherever it’s located, is inflammatory and triggers changes in your body on a cellular level, to hormones and to your immune system, brain and other organs. Visceral fat— that’s fat around your belly—is the most inflammatory of all body fat. But that doesn’t mean that fat on your hips, arms or legs doesn’t increase your risk for cancer or heart disease, not to mention disrupted sleep, mental stress, neurologic dysfunction and viral infections.
One study of almost 70,000 people found that any kind of obesity is a trigger for high blood pressure, diabetes and atrial fibrillation. And a new study presented at The European Congress on Obesity found that overweight/obesity increases the risk of 10 cancers no matter how you measure it—with BMI, body fat percentage, waist-to-hip ratio, waist-to-height ratio or waist and hip circumferences.
Researchers followed 437,393 adults (average age 56 years) who were cancer free for nine years to see who developed cancer. Turns out that for each bump in a women’s BMI of 5.1 above the cutoff for overweight—25—and each bump in a men’s BMI of 4.2 above 25, the risk for stomach cancer went up 35 percent, gallbladder cancer 33 percent; liver cancer 27 percent; kidney cancer 26 percent; pancreatic cancer 12 percent; bladder cancer 9 percent; colorectal cancer 10 percent; endometrial cancer 73 percent; and postmenopausal breast cancer 8 percent. Those percentages held true for all the other measurements of overweight/obesity as well. The researchers also found that the more severe obesity is, the higher the risk of developing and dying from these cancers, except for postmenopausal breast cancer. So if you are overweight—no matter where it accumulates—tune into System Oz at www.DoctorOz.com to take back your health.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at youdocsdaily( at sign)sharecare.com.
(c)2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.