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Little Steps, Big Rewards: Making a Workout Workable

Little Steps, Big Rewards: Making a Workout Workable

If you wanted to get to the top of the Great Pyramid you’d have to clamber over 203 huge steps to reach the 454 foot summit. The top of the Eifel Tower? Today there are 1,665 steps (a lot smaller than the pyramid’s) and it’s 984 feet tall. Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, scrapes the sky; it’s 2,722 feet tall with 2,909 stairs.  Luckily, you don’t have to take that many steps to gain the great health benefits of losing weight.

Doing a little has big rewards!  If you’re overweight or obese, shedding just five percent of your body weight (that’s nine pounds for someone who’s 180) can help reduce multiple risk factors for type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Recently, researchers compared the health improvements of 40 obese men and women who lost five percent of their body weight with those who shed 10 and 15 percent. The 19 folks who shed five percent saw almost as much improvement in the function of their beta cells (that’s where insulin is produced) and in insulin sensitivity as those who lost 10 and 15 percent. And that’s great news for folks who think they have to go from severely overweight to thin to see health improvements.

Just aim for five percent at a time by making simple lifestyle changes: Eat 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies a day, de-stress with 10 minutes of mindful meditation daily, and start a walking routine pronto. Remember, every journey starts with one small step.

Medically reviewed in September 2018.

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