Walking has powerful health benefits. It can protect you against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, even cancer. And according to a new study, your risk of premature death decreases as your daily step count increases. Consumer Reports helps you track your steps to better fitness and health.
Do you get 10,000 steps a day? For most of us, that’s roughly 5 miles. But if that sounds like too lofty a goal, take heart: People who step less may still see big health benefits.
High step counts have been associated with a lower risk for sleep apnea, reflux, and depression. But even a 15-minute stroll can improve mood, reduce stress, and help you sleep better.
Generally, experts say the more you walk, the more benefits you’ll get. Need some motivation? A fitness tracker or smartwatch could help you reach your goals.
CR tests both types of gadgets to count your steps, check your heart rate, and track your sleep. It recommends the Fitbit Inspire 3 for $99.95 and the Apple Watch SE for $249.
Remember, there’s really no single magic number of steps. Any amount of walking that gets you up and out of your chair is a step in the right direction.
To figure out your step goal, start by estimating how many steps you take in a typical week, then increase your daily average by 500. Once you can hit that new number regularly for a week, add another 500.
Ready to get started? CR’s got some more tips:
Wear bright colors and shoes that fit well. Walk with good posture. If you have balance problems, consider using walking poles. And if you need music or a podcast to stay motivated, make sure you’re still aware of your environment to keep you safe and let you enjoy the journey.
As with most aspects of living a long, higher-quality life, staying fit may help reduce brain disease risk and help maintain cognitive strength. So walking now may keep you walking for years to come.