Though health advocates have encouraged running for years, science is now saying that walking can also significantly improve your health and reduce your chance of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

A study published in HealthDay News found that adults who take at least 10,000 steps per day improved their health just as much as runners. They key is distance, not how long it takes to get there.

The study looked at 33,000 runners and 13,000 walkers ranging in age from eighteen to eighty. The majority of participants were in their forties or fifties. Over a six-year period, both groups reduced their chances for heart disease almost equally.arthritis and heart disease ad

The study found that:

  • Running reduced the risk of high blood pressure 4.2 percent and walking reduced the risk 7.2 percent.
  • Running reduced the risk for high cholesterol 4.3 percent and walking lowered the risk 7 percent.
  • Running lowered the risk for diabetes 12.1 percent and walking reduced the risk 12.3 percent.
  • Running decreased the risk of heart disease 4.5 percent and walking reduced the risk 9.3 percent.

Walking can also help you lose weight, gain bone strength, and improve your overall mood.

The key to effective walking is to maintain a brisk pace. Leisurely walking does not carry the same benefits as a faster pace. Walking for health requires good technique and proper posture. You should also wear proper shoes and clothing to optimize your exercise.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends walking at a moderate pace for thirty minutes or a brisk pace for twenty minutes to maintain optimal heart health. Distance is also key. You should be walking at least two miles per session. No matter the pace you maintain, make sure to include a build up and cool down to prevent injuries.

To make sure you’re getting at least 10,000 steps per day, invest in a pedometer. A pedometer will track you every step and let you know if you’re meeting your goals. If you’re falling short daily, try increasing your steps by parking farther away from stores or taking the stairs instead of elevators. These changes may seem small, but they quickly add up.

Exercises including 10,000 steps a day can help keep you healthy and free from disease. Buddy up with a friend to stay on track and make your walks more fun!