Americans not hitting their walking stride

Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:02am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Americans have got some walking to do if they want to catch up with the rest of the world.

They are far outpaced by Australians, Asians and Europeans who walk much more, according to a new study.

Adults in western Australia average 9,695 steps a day. The Swiss followed with 9,650, while the Japanese clocked in with 7,168 steps. But Americans straggled far behind with just 5,117 steps.

"We were surprised that the levels of physical activity were that low," said Dr. David R. Bassett, of the University of Tennessee, the lead author of the study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

"Five thousand steps is really pretty inactive," he added.

Bassett said Americans need to step up for another 30 to 40 minutes per day to shrink the fitness gap. One mile equals about 2000 steps.

The researchers used pedometers to gather step data from 1,136 American adults, who varied in age, gender and geographic location, and compared the results to similar studies in the other countries.

Bassett thinks America's car culture and lack of adequate public transportation provide fertile ground for couch potatoes.   Continued...

<p>A woman walks with an umbrella amid a downpour on New York City's upper West side October 1, 2010. Torrential rain and wind lashed the East Coast on Friday snarling traffic and triggering tornado watches and flood warnings. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>