Step it up: How to walk your way to a healthier heart

An increasing number of young people are experiencing cardiovascular incidents, causing concern; A recent study identifies the optimal number of steps to reduce the risk, so if you haven't gotten off your couch yet, now would be a good time

Eitan Geffen|
Maintaining good health requires regular physical activity, as highlighted by a recent study that has identified the optimal daily step count to minimize the risk of mortality and cardiovascular events. Professor Ariel Rogin, the director of the cardiac ward at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, provides insights into the research findings, the common factors contributing to cardiovascular events, and additional preventive measures that can be taken.
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Factors such as a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, high blood pressure, elevated blood lipids, and lack of physical activity significantly contribute to overall health issues and specifically increase the risk of cardiovascular events.
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התקף לב
התקף לב
How to prevent heart attacks
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In contrast to the previously held belief that heart attacks were primarily prevalent among older men, there has been a concerning trend in recent years. More and more people aged 30 - 45, are now experiencing heart attacks. Professor Roguin explains that "while the common age for heart attacks in men used to be 55 and above, there has been a notable increase among younger men. "Approximately 2% of all heart attacks now occur in men under the age of 40."

Track your steps to improve your health

Sedentary behavior and a lack of regular physical activity are widely recognized as factors that increase the risk of heart attacks. Leading a sedentary lifestyle raises the likelihood of gradual blockage and the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels, which can lead to the development of atherosclerosis and the formation of blood clots that may result in a stroke. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize regular physical activity, aiming for a minimum of three sessions per week, with a focus on improving cardiovascular endurance.
A common inquiry often revolves around determining the minimum level of exertion necessary to have a positive impact on one's health. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Cardiology (JACC), researchers explored the ideal number of daily steps required to decrease the risk of mortality and cardiovascular diseases associated with heart problems.
More than 110,000 participants took part in the 12 studies that examined activity levels and provided insights into overall mortality and the progression of heart diseases. The findings revealed that simply taking a minimum of 2,517 steps per day can lower the risk of overall mortality by 8%. Similarly, taking at least 2,735 steps per day can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by 11% compared to only walking 2,000 steps.
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פעילות גופנית כתורמת לבריאות הלב
A bit of exercise goes a long way
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Increasing step count beyond these thresholds can further decrease the occurrence of heart events. Walking 8,763 steps per day was identified as the optimal level for a 60% reduction in overall mortality while walking 7,126 steps per day was associated with a 51% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events.
According to Professor Rogin, "Moderate-to-fast walking has a slight advantage over slow walking (defined as 30 steps per minute). Further research is needed to determine how to adjust step count goals over time, incorporate step rate recommendations, and tailor personalized recommendations based on individual characteristics of each patient."
What other preventative measures can you take? The risk of heart disease can be mitigated in both young and old by implementing preventive measures, including quitting smoking, abstaining from substance abuse, and avoiding the consumption of energy drinks. Men who belong to one or more high-risk groups should undergo a thorough cardiac evaluation conducted by a certified cardiologist. Moreover, there are several important focal points that can assist individuals in maintaining a healthy heart regardless of their age.
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