What can 6,000 steps do for you?

Plenty, if you’re a woman in your mid-life years.

Daytime low angle landscape view of two women ...

A new study in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), says that’s how many steps each day it takes to reduce risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.

Researchers analyzed regular physical activity — defined as any form of body movement with energy expenditure above resting level — its effect on heart disease risk factors and body measurements of about 300 premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women (mean age 57 years) in Brazil.

Each woman wore a digital pedometer during waking hours for seven days; they recorded their activities and number of steps taken.Participants were divided into inactive (less than 6,000 steps/day), or active (more than 6,000 steps daily)

The group took 5,250 steps per day on average. Results revealed a significant association between the amount of physical activity and health risk factors including body mass index, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio. Even when age, menopause status, smoking and hormone therapy were accounted for, inactive women still had higher risk of type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

While the conclusion may seem fairly obvious –– physical activity lowers risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes – this study quantified how much, and whether any type of activity makes a difference.

The point is clear: 6,000 steps — the equivalent to about an hour’s walk – is what middle aged women need to stay healthy. So find ways to get some extra activity in your life each day. Maybe walk the dog a bit longer, or get off the bus a stop sooner, or use stairs instead of an elevator. Whatever you do, whether you’re a woman in mid-life, or a woman of any age, just get up and move!

That goes for you guys, too.