This week I want to share two articles about fitness and how it impacts one’s health. The first article is about the potential power a push-up has on determining one’s health. The second article is a study of how many steps we need daily to see significant health benefits. Below you’ll find these articles and my thoughts on their implications.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed below are those of Mark Pew, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Marketing, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Preferred Medical.
One’s overall health is a complex thing made up of all different factors. Although many times we use numbers to quantify health—such as blood pressure, body temperature, BMI—there is no single number that can say a person is healthy or not. There are also many additional tests and measurements that can be used to determine a person’s overall health with greater accuracy. This article suggests that a minute of push-ups, grip strength or walking speed could track one’s health with just as much accuracy—if not more—than body weight or BMI.
This is sooooooo spot-on. I love the concept: “Conscientiousness, Joyner says, means seeing a connection between how you live and what happens later, and behaving accordingly.” That’s what I’ve called a lifestyle of activity. Whether it’s a push-up, or grip strength, or walking speed, or any other signs of fitness beyond BMI, heart and respiratory rates and body temperature… it doesn’t matter. Being strategic—conscientious—about what you do on a daily basis to be physically and psychologically fit is the goal. According to Merriam-Webster, “conscientious” can be defined as “meticulous, careful.” Maybe a better word is “conscious,” defined as “perceiving, apprehending, or noticing with a degree of controlled thought or observation.” It’s amazing what better choices you can make when you actually think about the repercussions, now and into the future, of those choices. The point of this article isn’t about a single choice but every moment-by-moment choice between being active or not.
A recent study was published from the Harvard Medical School that followed 16,741 women ages 62 to 101 for four years where they wore trackers to measure their step count and speed. The overall conclusion from the study is that the minimum of 10,000 steps a day that we have been programmed to believe is necessary may not be needed to see health benefits. The study claims that in older women, only 5,000 steps daily was linked to a decreased risk for early deaths.
I have consistently made the point to my audiences that 10k is a made-up number as (per my research) it was primarily a marketing term for the first fitness trackers. In reality, it’s an attitude of fitness and activity that matters. On some days that translates into 2,500 steps. On other days it can translate into 20,000. Whatever the number of “steps”, it’s more important to be active. Because…”Motion is Lotion.” Interestingly, this new study mentions the possibility that “benefits might even flatten out after about 7,500 steps” (which may be why my Fitbit target is 8,000 steps per day). In fact, “Researchers found that women who averaged about 4,400 steps a day had significantly lower mortality rates than those who took only about half as many daily steps.” But don’t let these lowered numbers deter you from doing what you need to do because what matters most is encouraging a lifestyle of activity. Simple things like parking as far away from the front door as possible, choosing the stairs instead of the elevator (or walking up the escalator), walking at a brisk pace (at least 3-4 mph) as opposed to just strolling nonchalantly, or using a treadmill while watching TV (I once watched the second half of a NBA playoff game on a treadmill). You don’t have to run a 5K—you don’t even have to walk a 5K—to get your heart rate up to qualify as aerobic exercise. The more you can do the higher your stamina becomes but don’t let the perfect be the enemy of good. Do what you can. Every day.
To read everything on my mind this past week, please visit me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/marks-musings-july-8-mark-rxprofessor-pew/.
Until Next Week,