We have all heard before that physical activity is important for overall health. Believe it or not, it is now for the first time that we have solid evidence to prove that being more active in daily life decreases the risk of cardiovascular events (eg heart attacks) in particular.
The study, recently published in Lancet, assessed pedometer data (recording # steps per day) in over 9,000 people with prediabetes from 40 countries around the world. They examined how many steps per day each person took at the beginning of the study and again at 1 year, and then followed them up for an additional 6 years. They found that:
- people who were more active at baseline (start of the study) had a lower risk of cardiovascular events
- people who became more active over the course of a year had a lower risk of cardiovascular events at 6 years
- for every 2,000 steps/day increase in activity over a year (about one mile or 1.6 km), there was an 8% decrease in cardiovascular events!
Prior to this study, the studies suggesting that being more active decreases the risk of cardiovascular events have been based on less rigorous data and study design. Also, previous studies have generally been based on self reported data (ie the person in the study gauges how active they are), whereas this study objectively measured number of steps per day with pedometers. For these reasons, this study is considered a landmark trial in that it has shown us, very objectively and in a high quality study design, that being active really does decrease heart risk in a group of high risk individuals.
See if you can find ways to take more steps in your day!