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Global survey highlights the need for people to keep track of walking distance

Walk A Mile in Her ShoesI tend to measure how far I walk by how much my feet hurt after I kick my heels off at the end of the day. I hadn’t considered or seen much need for a better measure than that. But, according to a recent study by the World Heart Organization, my dim sense of athletic awareness falls a few steps short of the kind of effort needed to take good care of my heart.

The survey the World Heart Organization conducted was simple: They asked 7,367 people in six different countries (Brazil, China, India, Spain, UK and USA) how much time they spent walking at a slow to average versus brisk pace every day.

Perhaps the most interesting response they received was the collective hemming and hawing that came from roughly one-third of all American and UK participants who - like me - had no concept of how much or how fast they walk in an average day. From the organization's press release:

  • Around one in three adults in the US and UK are not aware of how much they walk each day compared to only one in six people in India

  • Overall, in the six countries that were surveyed, 55 per cent of people who reported times, do less than 30 minutes of brisk walking on a typical day

  • People in the US and UK reported that they do less brisk walking than those in developing nations -- two thirds of respondents in the US and UK who reported their walking times do less than 30 minutes of brisk walking, on a typical day, whereas less than half of adults in Brazil and India do the same.

If you're feeling humbled by these data (I'm borderline humiliated), here's a shot at redemption. This Sunday, otherwise known as World Heart Day, the World Heart Federation and Bupa are kicking off a worldwide walking challenge, called Ground Miles.

The goal of the event is to see if participants can collectively walk 5 million miles in one week and since they know many of us have trouble keeping track of how far we walk, they're providing a free Ground Miles app to measure the distance we travel.

Here's some added incentive from the Bupa website:

When the 5 million mile target is reached, Bupa will provide funding to the World Heart Federation which will be used to support programmes that protect thousands of children from heart failure and early death, as a result of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD).

This is all the reason I need to start keeping track of my steps.

Holly MacCormick is a writing intern in the medical school’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs. She is a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology at University of California-Santa Cruz.

Previously: Childhood obesity a risk for imminent heart problems, research showsComputer-generated phone calls shown to help inactive adults get – and keep – moving and Simple, inexpensive tool helps predict mortality risks
Photo by US Army

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