Women who take at least 6,000 steps each day — regardless of whether they are part of a regular exercise routine — have a markedly lower risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease, new research shows.
Although past studies have consistently shown structured workout programs lower health risks from diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, the new study — published online in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society — is among the first to suggest that habitual physical activity from regular activities of daily living also has the power to improve women's health.
To reach their conclusions, Brazilian researchers tracked the activity levels of 292 women — 45 to 72 years old — who wore pedometers and recorded their daily steps. The women had health checks for cholesterol and blood sugar, as well as abdominal obesity.
The results showed women who took 6,000 or more steps per day were much less likely than less active ones to be obese and have metabolic syndrome or diabetes.
This was true regardless of whether they had gone through menopause — when the risks for such conditions rise — or were using hormone therapy.