Every step counts! New research shows just 4000 steps a day can make a difference to your health

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Walk to Work Day Supporting Diabetes Australia (WTWD) is on this Friday 1 September and organisers are saying no more excuses, with a new study finding that health benefits can be achieved by walking as few as 4,000 steps a day.

The study found that the risk of cardiovascular disease was reduced by walking just 2,300 steps per day, and that walking 4,000 steps per day significantly reduced the risk of dying of any cause. Every additional 1,000 steps are said to bring about a further 15 per cent risk reduction.

Pedestrian Council CEO Harold Scruby said while 10,000 steps per day is a motivating target for physically active people, it can have the opposite effect for those who struggle to find the time to get out for longer walks during the day.

“The World Health Organisation reports insufficient physical activity is the fourth-leading risk for death—what a staggering and avoidable statistic! We’ve been told that under 5,000 steps per day is considered sedentary, however this new study highlights that walking fewer steps still has significant health benefits.

“This is tremendous news for people who are just getting started or need to factor in more realistic physical goals based on their personal circumstances.  No more excuses – step into spring, put your feet first and join the walking class. A simple daily short walk could change your life and you can get started this Friday on Walk to Work Day!” he said.

Hayley Nicholson, Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Credentialed Diabetes Educator, is a big supporter of regular walking as one of the habits that enables you to live a long and healthy life, saying that it is important for all Australians to try to adopt short bouts of walking to break up prolonged periods of sitting.

“Start with a 5 to 10 minute walk and build from there. The key is doing them regularly. It’s easy to look up and realise you’ve been sitting in the same position for three or four hours, especially if you’re like many of us working from home these days,” she said.

A separate study in 2020 endorsed walking as therapy for Type 2 diabetes as it improves glucose control as well as many other benefits relevant to the condition.

“We’ve known for a long time that regular walking helps to keep blood glucose levels in a healthy range,” said Nicholson.

“However, the latest research shows that walking can also reduce complications, including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, but it can also alleviate conditions such as diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage which can cause pain, burning, tingling, or numbness in the toes or feet and extreme sensitivity to light touch).”

With millions of Australians living with all types of diabetes or at risk of type 2 diabetes, there’s never been a better time for employers and employees to build walking into their daily work routines and take those important steps towards a healthier workplace. (Pull the diabetes stats in your suburb here)

WTWD is on this Friday, 1 September 2023 and encourages all Australians to walk all or some of the way to, during or after work. For more information, please visit walk.com.au

Research References

2023 Work to Work Day Supporting Diabetes Australia

How to get involved:

  • If you can’t walk all the way, use public transport and get off the bus, train, tram or ferry a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way to work
  • If you do need to drive, leave the car a kilometer or two from your destination and walk the rest of the way
  • Take a half-hour walk at lunchtime
  • Where possible use the stairs rather than escalators or the lift
  • If you sit at a desk, be sure to get up and walk around at least once every hour
  • Get up and talk to your colleagues instead of sending them emails
  • If working from home, make sure you take a break and take a walk throughout the day
  • Rather than holding meetings around a table or over zoom, host a “walking meeting”
  • Challenge your work mates and compare your step stats in the lead up to the day

Key messages:

  • Raises awareness for Diabetes Australia
  • Diabetes Australia is the national body for the 1.5 million Australians diagnosed with diabetes as well as people at risk
  • We are committed to reducing the impact of all types of diabetes
  • Diabetes Australia works in partnership with people with diabetes, health professionals and researchers
  • In the last 12 months 120,000 Australians have been diagnosed with all types of diabetes. It is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia and can lead to a range of costly and debilitating complications including vision loss, limb amputation and kidney and heart disease
  • Promotes regular walking as a healthy activity that can help people lower their risk of type 2 diabetes and help people living with diabetes manage the condition
  • Promotes better physical, mental & social health for all Australians
  • Reducing the reliance on the private motor vehicle (reduce car-dependency)
  • Promoting and improving the use of public transport (less traffic)
  • Improving air quality and environment by reducing unnecessary vehicle emissions
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