Step Up Your Exercise

An article written by Dr. Taylor Pratile, DC

COVID-19 has really put the brakes on my exercise routine. I’m sure it has for you as well.

It is quite difficult to exercise while we are staying home and maintaining physical distancing measures. During these times it is much easier to be sedentary, binge watching TV shows. Although the majority of our health focus is on COVID-19, as well it should be, we can’t overlook the fact that sedentary behaviour or being physically inactive has adverse health consequences1.

The Challenge:

I challenge you to do at least 4000 steps per day! That translates to approximately 3 km. Why 4000 steps? A recent article from the Journal of the American Medical Association found that adults who took between 4000 to 8000 steps per day were associated with lower rate of all-cause mortality, specifically deaths related to diabetes, smoking, alcohol, stroke, coronary heart disease, cancer, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis2. Many of these health conditions are related to sedentary lifestyles. researchers also found the more steps per day the lower the risk, with 8000 to 12 000 steps and 12 000+ steps having incrementally greater health benefits2. You may be wondering how fast you would have to walk/run to get these health benefits. The best part of this study found that there was no added health benefit between those who walked faster and those who walked slower2. So, the main take away point, walk at least 4000 steps per day and the more steps you do the better.

How can I get in my steps while maintaining physical distance?

While we encourage staying home and self-isolation, at the current time we are still able to walk around our neighbourhoods. This is a great way to get in your steps but keep these social distancing measures in mind:

  • Limit the number of walks per day. One long walk a day is enough and encourages all of us to maintain social distancing.  
  • Try walking during times when fewer people are outside such as early mornings or evenings.
  • If you are walking outside, keep a distance of 2 meters from others whenever possible.
  • Avoid large public spaces, such as parks, or busy streets.

You can also get in your steps by walking up and down the stairs at your apartment or condominium. Again, make sure to do this a limited number of times per day, during off peak hours, maintain 2 meters of distance between you and others, and clean any surfaces like handrails that you or others come in contact with.

If you are under mandatory self-isolation, please do not go outside and risk others health just to get your steps in. You can maintain your activity indoors by walking up and down your hallways at home, up and down your stairs or keeping yourself busy doing household chores.

While we encourage physical activity, please respect others’ health. The more we physically distance ourselves, the better for the highest risk in our society by limiting the transmission of COVID-19.

How can I measure my steps?

Most wearable technology like Fitbit or Apple Watch come equipped with accelerometers that can measure your steps. Iphone and other smartphones have built in accelerometers that can measure steps through apps. If neither of these work, you can always map out your walk so you know the route is at least 3 kms long.

Reference

1González K, Fuentes J, Márquez JL. Physical Inactivity, Sedentary Behavior and Chronic Diseases. Korean J Fam Med. 2017;38(3):111–115. doi:10.4082/kjfm.2017.38.3.111

2Saint-Maurice PF, Troiano RP, Bassett DR Jr, Graubard BI, Carlson SA, Shiroma

EJ, Fulton JE, Matthews CE. Association of Daily Step Count and Step Intensity With Mortality Among US Adults. JAMA. 2020 Mar 24;323(12):1151-1160. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.1382. PubMed PMID: 32207799.

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