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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Take purposeful steps for better health

By Veita Bland, M.D. / March 24, 2023

Research data shows that people who achieve at least 10,000 steps per day have a decrease in their mortality risk.

Health care providers are constantly speaking with their patients about how important it is to move that body and develop an exercise program. Patients will sometimes ask what exercise programs may be best for them. There is data that gives us a glimpse into that strategy.

We all know that living a sedentary lifestyle is a big time “No, No.” So many people now have smart watches or apps on their smart phones that can readily show how many steps they are achieving each and every day. This is a great benefit for those, who are trying to make a change and become more active. However, the real question is, does it matter how you get those steps?

Well, of course 3,000 steps is better than 2,000 steps and that mythical 10,000 steps would be great. People can benefit by striving to get their step count up and the more steps one gets, the data shows a decrease in mortality. Those who can routinely hit 10,000 steps per day have a 36 percent decrease in mortality. This benefit leveled off after 10,000 steps but the data after that magical goal is sparse.

Researchers also studied the way steps were obtained. They classified the steps we get by just getting up to go to the bathroom, or going to the water cooler at work or the steps we make as we just live our normal lives as “incidental steps.”

Then there were the “purposeful steps.” These are the steps we take when we are going to do something such as going to the grocery or hardware store. They are faster.

The “peak 30 cadence” was the researchers’ top group in this study. In this category, the participants walked faster. But does it mater from which of these groups your steps come from or does just getting the steps in count more?

The researchers found that 5,000 steps from the purposeful step group was equal to the 10,000 step mark. They also found that the greater the cadence or faster the steps, the better. The best cadence was around 75 steps per minute. These so called “speed walkers” had a 34 percent decrease in death rate.
So, it does matter how you get your steps in. It seems a purposeful speedy walk is the best, but any steps are great. Ok, let’s get stepping!

Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at


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