America: Get Off Your Butt and Start Walking

people walking photo

Photo: colorblindPICASO/flickr

Americans--get walking! It turns out that Americans walk far less than Australians, Asians, and Europeans. Maybe this explains why Americans are fatter than people in other countries--34% more. Hmmm, why do so many studies tell us what we already knew intuitively....

According to a new study from the University of Tennessee, adults in the USA average a mere 5,117 steps a day.

japanese walking photo

Photo: travelpod

Australians average 9,695 a day, the Swiss followed with 9,650 and the Japanese are falling behind at 7,168. To be fair, there was no word of the steps taken in other countries.

Even the author of the study, Dr. David R. Bassett was amazed: "We were surprised that the levels of physical activity were that low, five thousand steps is really pretty inactive."

It also turns out that men take more steps than women: 5,340 versus 4,912. That must have to do with the many errands women have to run or the high heels that they wear (non-scientific explanation). Also in the U.S., single people take a lot more steps per day (6,076) than married people (4,793) or widowed (3,394).

The results of not walking much and driving too much are obvious: 34% of Americans are considered to be obese, compared with 16% in Australia, 8% in Switzerland and 3% in Japan.

As if that isn't grim enough, not walking leads to illness too. The study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, said that Americans who walked more than 5,000 steps a day were 40 percent less likely to develop a precursor illness to diabetes, and those who walked 10,000 or more steps were 72 percent less likely to get it.

US walk photo

Photo: University of Santa Clara

Dr. Bassett, and TreeHugger, have been banging the walking drum for a while. TreeHugger Lloyd quoted him way back in 2008, when Bassett said:

Countries with the highest levels of active transportation generally had the lowest obesity rates. Walking and bicycling are far more common in European countries than in the United States, Australia and Canada. Active transportation is inversely related to obesity in these countries.

The moral: Get out there and get going now.

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