Why 10,000 Steps a Day Won't Make You Thin

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If you start walking with the expectation of losing weight, it might be smart to reevaluate. Have you ever started a walking program in order to lose weight? While no doubt there are huge health benefits to regular exercise, unfortunately the ability of exercise to cause weight loss without you changing your diet has proven itself to be disappointing – to say the least. And yet, many take on walking programs with that express aim – often aiming at those much vaunted 10,000 steps. The question is, will those steps help?  First off, as far as walking and health goes – I’m a huge fan. Walking is free, it’s exceedingly accessible, it absolutely affects fitness and it requires no special planning, preparation or gear. On the surface, it might also seem to be integral to weight loss. Consider a group of more than 10,000 individuals (who on average have lost 66 pounds and kept them off for more than five years) in the National Weight Control Registry. The vast majority exercise, and among the group, walking is their most common means to do so. Did those folks’ steps translate into their pounds lost? A recent meta-analysis has the answer. The meta-analysis specifically looked at studies of folks with overweight or obesity who undertook pedometer-based walking programs that didn’t include specific dietary change components. The authors identified nine studies that met their inclusion criteria, and they then pooled the studies’ results together. On average, participants increased their average daily number of steps by close to 4,000 and did so for a 16-week period. So did they lose weight? Well, yes, after spending four months walking an extra one to two miles per day, the average walker was seen to have lost 3.13 pounds – an amount that was just barely deemed statistically significant.  To help appreciate those numbers, the meta-analysis’ authors put them into perspective and state that for every 10.5 additional miles you walk, you might expect to lose a hair over 1/10 of one pound. Putting this another way, if you walk an extra 1.5 miles each and every day, you might expect that after 10 weeks of not missing a single walk, you’ll have lost a single pound – or that at the end of the year, your 547.5 miles of hiking will have lost you 5 pounds. Of course, I’m guessing that most people who undertake a walking program in the hopes of losing weight will quit in disappointment long before they reach that 10-week mark, let alone a year. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the study was that the authors stubbornly elected to present their findings positively, suggesting quite firmly that walking programs could be very beneficial to weight loss. Yet what this study really helped to prove wasn’t that you can walk your weight off, but rather that weight is lost through food – and if you start walking with the expectation of losing, it’s probably also fair for you to expect that pretty soon you’ll sit back down. On the other hand, if you start your walking program with hopes of improving your cardiovascular health, strength, mobility, mood and sleep, I’d bet you’ll be much more likely to keep on walking, as those are benefits you can fairly count on. Ultimately, reading this study I couldn’t help but wonder when will researchers stop suggesting that exercise is the ticket to the weight-loss express and instead shift the focus to exercise’s rightful and non-disappointing role as the ticket to health? Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report

source : U.S. News & World Report - Health (http://www.usnews.com/)

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