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More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Date:5/20/2010

Study suggests walking may help prevent metabolic syndrome

THURSDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- 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
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