Study finds that 10,000 steps a day might not be enough to prevent weight gain

Although 10,000 steps per day already feel a lot for most, a new research study in the US has found that it might not be sufficient to keep people from gaining weight.

The research study at Brigham Young University took 120 freshmen during their first six months of college. The respondents were categorized into three groups to determine if increasing the number of daily steps above 10,000 would prevent weight and fat gain.

One group was required to walk 10,000 steps per day. Another group was required to walk 12,500 steps per day, and the last group, 15,000 steps a day. They were required to do this for six days per week in a span of 24 weeks.

Pedometers were used to track the steps. The weight and caloric intake of the respondents were also taken into account.

The result was published in the Journal of Obesity. It was found that while the participants walked approximately 9,600 steps per day on average before starting the study, those in the 10,000-step group managed to average 11,066 steps a day by the end of the study. Meanwhile, participants in the 12,500-step group averaged 13,638 steps and those in the 15,000-step group averaged 14,557 steps per day.

Yet, participants still gained weight even if they took 15,000 steps per day.

The respondents gained about 1.5 kg on average over the course of the study period. It has been found in previous studies that it was common for freshmen to gain weight during the first year of college. On average, freshmen weight gain is between 1 and 4 kgs.

“Exercise alone is not always the most effective way to lose weight,” said lead author Bruce Bailey, “If you track steps, it might have a benefit in increasing physical activity, but our study showed it won’t translate into maintaining weight or preventing weight gain.”

However, one positive finding is that walking more did help boost physical activity levels, which “may have other emotional and health benefits,” the study authors said. Unsurprisingly, walking more significantly reduced sedentary time in both the 12,500- and 15,000-step groups, and by as much as 77 minutes a day in the 15,000-step group.

“The biggest benefit of step recommendations is getting people out of a sedentary lifestyle,” Bailey. “Even though it won’t prevent weight gain on its own, more steps [are] always better for you.”

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