ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
Maggots as Good as Gel in Leg Ulcer Treatments
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Improved Hip Implants Can Last 20 Years
Bone Density Predicts Chances of Breast Cancer
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
CANCER
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
CAREGIVING
Reduce Suffering, Urge Heart Failure Patients and Caregivers
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
Falls Are Top Cause of Injury, Death Among Elderly
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating in America Still Unhealthy
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Population-Based Strategy Urged to Cut U.S. Obesity Rate
Agent Orange Exposure Tied to Prostate Cancer Return
Common Pesticide Tied to Development Delays in Kids
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
Statin Drugs Cause Eye Disorders
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
FITNESS
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
When Clocks Change, Body May Need Time to Adjust
Lower Vitamin D Levels in Blacks May Up Heart Risks
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
MEN'S HEALTH
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
SENIORS
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
Add your Article

More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health

Walk a little, and your body will thank you. Walk a lot, and it will really thank you.

That's the message of a new study that links taking more steps in a day to a lower risk of an extremely common condition known as metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes.

The research only shows a connection between more walking and better health -- it doesn't prove that simply walking more will make you healthier. Still, the findings suggest that "you don't have to be out there running marathons," said study co-author Peter T. Katzmarzyk, a professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La.

Instead, "you just have to incorporate physical activity such as walking into your lifestyle," he said.

The study, published in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, examined the effects of exercise on metabolic syndrome, which is estimated to affect more than a third of adults in the United States.

People with metabolic syndrome have at least some of the risk factors for heart disease and diabetes -- excess weight in the abdomen, elevated blood pressure, low levels of good cholesterol, high triglyceride (blood fat) levels, insulin resistance or elevated blood glucose levels.

The condition serves as a sort of early warning system, Katzmarzyk said. "If you have two, three or four risk factors, you may have a much higher risk of developing full-blown cardiovascular disease than someone who doesn't," he said.

Many people with excess weight have metabolic syndrome, but people of normal weight can develop it too, he said.

The study authors examined a 2005-2006 study that tracked 1446 adults (with an average age of 47.5) as they went about their days. The participants wore high-quality pedometers (known as accelerometers) that allowed researchers to accurately count the number of steps they took each day and sort them into three groups: "sedentary" (those who took fewer than 5000 steps a day), "low-to-somewhat-active" (5000 to 9999 steps a day), and "active-to-highly active" (10,000 or more steps a day).

After adjusting their statistics so they wouldnt be thrown off by factors like gender and age, the researchers found that almost 56 percent of those who took the least steps had metabolic syndrome, but just 13 percent of those who took the most steps had it. Overall, about a third had metabolic syndrome.

But even adults who were only somewhat active had a better chance of avoiding the syndrome than those who walked the least. Compared to the sedentary group, people in the "low-to-somewhat-active" group had 40 percent lower odds of developing the condition. People in the "active-to-highly active" had a full 72 percent lower odds of developing it.

In addition, each additional 1,000 steps was associated with an 8-13 percent decrease in the odds of a large waist, in a low level of "good" HDL cholesterol, and in high levels of triglycerides.

Those who walked the most were least likely to have risk factors, Katzmarzyk said.

"There was a trend all the way," he said. "It's not that you reach some magical number. Something is better than nothing, and something more than that is even better."

Since the study didn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship between walking and lowered odds of metabolic syndrome, other factors could be at play, Katzmarzyk said. For example, people who have metabolic syndrome may be less active because of it.

David R. Bassett Jr., a professor who studies exercise at the University of Tennessee, said the new study is significant because it's more rigorous than previous research examining the connection between steps taken and metabolic syndrome.

"The amount of walking people do is vitally important for their health," Bassett said. "The authors measured the total volume of walking performed, not just walking done in bouts of 10 minutes or more, and not just brisk walking. Plain, old walking is good for your health."

SOURCES: Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Ph.D., professor, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, La.; David R. Bassett Jr., Ph.D., professor, Department of Exercise, Sport and Leisure Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; May 2010, American Journal of Preventive Medicine Published on: May 20, 2010