A lot of studies show that exercising regularly can help lose body fat especially around the belly; an important information since excessive fat in the belly region is known to increase the risk of heart disease. But the main question which arises, is how much exercise is sufficient to achieve the desired goal.
According to a new study, walking around 10,000 steps daily may help significantly in losing weight. 10,000 steps amount to about 5 miles in a day. On an average a sedentary person walks only 2000-3000 steps per day.
A study was conducted on 80 women (average age 50 years) and they were asked to wear a pedometer daily for a period of 7 days. A pedometer is an instrument that measures the approximate distance traveled on foot by registering the number of steps taken by a person. It also gives a fair idea about the overall calories burnt.
At the beginning of the study the researchers measured the height, weight, BMI (a measure of body fat) waist and hips of each participant. During the study all the women wore the pedometer each morning on their waistband and noted down the number of steps displayed on the pedometer in the evening. The next morning they would reset the pedometer. This was continued for 7 days. During these 7 days the participants simply carried on their daily routine work and leisure activities and did not engage in any other exercise.
At the end of the study the researchers observed that those women who walked more had less body fat, a low BMI and a lower waist/hip ratio. On the other hand those women who walked less had more body fat as well as fat in the belly region. The results of the study are significant as obesity increases the risk of certain diseases such as heart problem and type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetes. Hence, researchers conclude that walking 10,000 steps daily or walking for at least 30 minutes can be beneficial not only in losing body fat but also in lowering blood pressure and blood sugar.
Even though this study involved only white women between 45 and 60 years old and it does not show whether walking has the same benefit for men or for women in other age or ethnic groups, the benefits of walking regularly (for at least 30 minutes) cannot be overlooked.
It is important to note that the BMI, waist size and waist to hip ratio are measures of obesity. An individual with a BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight (30 or above is considered obese). Men having a waist circumference more than 40 inches (or waist-to-hip ratio > 0.95) and women with a waist circumference of 35 inches (or waist-to-hip ratio of 0.80) are at increased risk of health problems.
Today, overweight and obesity have become major concerns as both not only augment the chances of developing diseases such as high blood pressure, dyslipidemia (abnormal lipid profile), type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, gall stones, osteoarthritis and certain cancers including cancer of gall bladder, colon, rectum, prostrate, uterus, breast and ovary but also tends to be responsible for psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety and binge eating disorder. Hence, maintaining an ideal body weight is very essential to be free from the burden of a host of diseases.