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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Doctors say there are many benefits of walking but research shows Americans could be doing more.
It’s a mixed bag as Americans appear to be walking more often now than they were a decade ago, but the distance is less.
Walking for as little as two hours a week has been shown to help people live longer.
Benefits range from weight control and improved mood, to less cancer and clearer thinking.
The new research shows people who walk for transportation is up 3 percent, and for leisure and exercise, it’s up 10 percent, but the average distance traveled for both was less over time.
“What they found is that from 2005 to 2010, 2015, the number of people walking increased by about 10 percent,” said Dr. Michael Roizen. “The negative on that is, everyone is walking less.”
The research didn’t address why there’s been a walking reduction, but sedentary lifestyles have been linked to the obesity epidemic and many other health problems.
Doctors say any amount of walking can be beneficial, but more is better.
“The key is where you get healthy is 10,000 steps a day,” said Roizen. “It’s not a magic number we pulled down, it’s the number where you break metabolic syndrome, where you break insulin resistance in your muscles cells.”
The faster you walk, the more you may be prolonging your life, as previous studies have shown an “average” walking pace was linked with a 20 percent lower risk of death, a “fast” walking pace was tied to a 24 percent lower risk.
Doctors say tracking your steps with something like a Fitbit can be a good motivator and so can getting a walking buddy.