Forget 10,000 steps. 7 surprising tips for step counters.

If you’re struggling to reach 10,000 steps a day, here’s some good news: The latest science suggests fewer daily steps may be the sweet spot for many of us, depending on our age, fitness and health goals.

There is nothing magical or evidence-based about 10,000 steps a day. So feel free to let go of that goal.

The notion to take 10,000 daily steps stems from a marketing ploy: As the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics approached, a Japanese researcher decided to nudge his nation to be more active by offering pedometers with a name that loosely translated as “10,000-step meter.” (The Japanese character for the number 10,000 looks a little like a person walking.)

More recently, scientists have come up with evidence-based recommendations about step-count goals. I recently spoke with some of the world’s leading experts on the science of step counting. Here’s their advice.

1. Your step count goal may be lower than you think

In the past few years, multiple large-scale studies have stepped up, looking closely into how many steps we probably need for our health and longevity. In the largest, published last year in the Lancet Public Health, dozens of global researchers pooled data from 15 earlier step-count studies, some unpublished, covering 47,471 adults of all ages, and compared their typical daily step counts to their longevity.

The sweet spot for step counts was not 10,000 or more. In general, the pooled data showed that for men and women younger than age 60, the greatest relative reductions in the risk of dying prematurely came with step counts of between about 8,000 and 10,000 per day.

For people older than age 60, the threshold was a little lower. For them, the sweet spot in terms of reduced mortality risk came at between 6,000 and 8,000 steps a day.

Walking more than 10,000 steps a day wasn’t bad for people — it didn’t increase the risk of dying — but also didn’t add much, in terms of reducing mortality risks.

The benefits also weren’t confined to longevity. In other studies, step counts of at least 8,000 a day for adults substantially lowered risks for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, dementia, depression, many types of cancer and even sleep apnea, said Janet Fulton, senior science adviser in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2. Even a small increase in daily steps is good for you

Not managing 8,000 steps a day at the moment? Or 6,000? Or even 5,000? You’re not alone. Even before the pandemic, most Americans were averaging fewer than 6,000 steps a day. And covid-19 seems to have reduced many people’s daily step counts by 10 percent or more, according to some recent research, with daily activity levels only slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels.

How do you begin to increase your step counts? Even very small increases in daily steps are good for you.

“I suggest starting with an increase of about 500 to 1,000 steps per day,” said Ulf Ekelund, a professor at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences who studies physical activity and was one of the co-authors of the Lancet step-count study.

“We currently consider 500 steps a day as the minimum target for increased activity in inactive individuals,” said Thomas Yates, a professor of physical activity, sedentary behavior and health at the University of Leicester in England.

Every week or two, try accumulating another 500 or 1,000 steps, Ekelund said, until you reach at least 8,000 a day, or 6,000 if you’re past age 60.

3. You don’t need an expensive step counter

“Phones or watches are reasonably accurate,” said I-Min Lee, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who studies physical activity.

But not everyone owns a watch or similar activity tracker, Fulton said, while “almost everyone has a smartphone now.” And almost every smartphone, Apple or Android, contains an accelerometer, which is a movement tracker, that can tell you how many steps you take, Fulton said.

These devices are not as accurate as the research-grade accelerometers used in scientific studies, Ekelund said, and their readings may differ enough that your step count will be different from mine at the end of our identical walk.

But these issues are relatively trivial, Yates said. Most phones and other types of trackers “are reasonably reliable,” he said, and if they over- or underestimate your steps somewhat, they’ll do so “consistently,” so you can track your progress.

A more intractable problem may be that many of us don’t carry our phones all the time, said Charles Matthews, a physical activity epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute and another co-author of the Lancet study. If your phone sits on your desk, it won’t count your steps. So, for an accurate measure of total daily steps, bring your phone as you amble. Carry it in your pocket, purse, or hand. The accelerometer should pick up your movements regardless, he said.

Here’s some basic step-count math: 1,000 steps is about half a mile. Want to go that extra mile? For most of us, 2,000 steps is about a mile, depending on stride length. Taking 10,000 steps would mean walking for about five miles.

5. Speed doesn’t matter

In terms of time, a half-hour of walking equals around 3,000 steps for most of us, if we don’t hurry.

The good news is we probably don’t need to hurry. In almost all of the recent studies of step counts and mortality, the intensity of the steps, meaning how fast people walked, didn’t seem to matter much. It’s the overall number of steps they took throughout the day that made a difference.

Intensity is the “icing” on the cake, Matthews said. Walking faster has the potential to amplify the health benefits of walking, but only slightly, he said.

The key is to walk as frequently as you can manage, whatever your pace.

6. Step goals aren’t about weight loss

Walking is not a calorie zapper. In broad terms, accumulating 2,000 steps, which is walking for about a mile, burns about 100 calories for an average adult moving at a strolling pace.

Your typical doughnut contains about 300 calories. An apple has about 100. Even 10,000 steps a day adds up to only about 500 calories.

7. It’s easier to count steps than minutes of exercise

Why count steps at all? Because, for most of us, it’s a simpler, more-concrete goal than accumulating “at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity” every week, which happens to be the formal advice in the U.S. government’s 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines.

“I have stopped trying to explain and prescribe the physical activity guidelines to my patients,” said William Kraus, a professor of medicine at Duke University, who was involved in writing the 2018 guidelines.

“They do not understand them and cannot absorb them. I have gone to prescribing steps. I tell them they need to get to a minimum of 7,000 steps per day.”

Stepping goals weren’t included in the 2018 guidelines, since a scientific advisory board believed the evidence then was thin, but most experts expect step counts to be included in future recommendations.

Meanwhile, the advice for most of us is the same, however we measure our movements (and assuming we are physically capable of walking). “Some is good, more is better,” Lee said, and the first step is to just get up and take a few steps.

Do you have a fitness question? Email YourMove@washpost.com and we may answer your question in a future column.


An earlier version of this article misidentified Janet Fulton as chief of the Physical Activity and Health Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is senior science adviser in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the CDC. The article has been corrected.

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Wild foods contribute to women’s higher dietary diversity in India, says study

The Indian School of Business (ISB) on June 26 said that a new research study has revealed that wild foods contribute to women’s, especially the tribal, higher dietary diversity in India and constitute a substantial contribution to food and nutrition security.

The study titled ‘Wild foods contribute to women’s higher dietary diversity in India’, published in the journal Nature Food, highlights the role of food items collected from forests and common lands in women’s diets in rural India.

The ISB in a statement said that as a part of the study, researchers collected monthly data on diet recall from 570 households across two tribal (Adivasi) dominated and forested districts in Jharkhand and West Bengal and found that wild food consumption significantly contributes to women’s diets, particularly during the months of June and July, when other crops are still in the growing stages in fields. Results of the study revealed that women who consumed wild foods had higher average dietary diversity scores (13% and 9% higher in June and July, respectively) than those who did not collect wild foods.

The study is the result of a collaboration between researchers representing the ISB, South Dakota State University (USA), Humboldt University (Germany), University of Michigan (U.S.), Manchester University (U.K.); and the University of Copenhagen (Denmark). The results put a spotlight on the need to have public policies that promote knowledge of wild foods and protect people’s rights to access forests and common lands as an instrument to improve nutrition.

The research reports that 40% of the women in the study group never met the minimum dietary diversity over the one-year period, thus highlighting the dire need to address poor diets. The research findings suggest that consumption of wild foods is important to vulnerable women in tribal (Adivasi) areas, particularly during June and July when other crops are still in the growing stages in fields.

Professor Ashwini Chhatre, co-author of the study and Executive Director, Bharti Institute of Public Policy, (ISB), said: “Wild foods are known as delicacies that only rich people can afford, truffles and morels being cases in point. But we know very little about how much poor people depend on them, and how critical these wild foods are to nutrition security of forest-dwelling communities. Our study has revealed the tip of a massive opportunity iceberg. These wild foods and knowledge associated with their distribution, seasonality, and abundance needs to be included in analysis of food systems and interventions to improve nutrition. When climate shocks destroy rainfed crops in forested regions, it is wild foods that stabilize food consumption for the poorest households”.

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You don’t need weights to build core strength — use this 10-minute abs workout instead

Sit-ups are a great way to work your abs, but they’re not the only way to strengthen your core. And, anyway, endless repetitions of sit-ups and crunches can get a bit boring after a while. 

Fortunately, you can shake things up with this short, 10-minute core workout. You don’t need weights either — just a single resistance band. The best resistance bands often come in sets of several strengths, so you can find one that’ll challenge your muscles. 

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Trendy celeb diet without calorie counting cuts risk of diabetes, study shows

Eating only during daytime hours reduces risk of diabetes, according to new research. Limiting meal times to an eight-hour window improves sensitivity to insulin – the hormone that takes sugar out of the bloodstream.

The trendy diet fad boosts metabolism of glucose in muscles and other tissues. Proponents include Gisele Bundchen, Jennifer Aniston, Kourtney Kardashian and Scarlett Johansson. They go without food between certain hours – or on specific days.

Corresponding author Professor Krista Varady said: “Obesity is a major health issue. Many traditional weight loss diets involve counting calories, which can be cumbersome and difficult to do well.

“Time-restricted eating, without calorie counting, has become a popular weight loss strategy because it is simple to do. Whether it’s effective in producing weight loss, especially beyond the short term, is unclear.”

Modern 24/7 lifestyles have led to endless food availability and disrupted day-night rhythms resulting from poor sleep and exposure to artificial light. People often spread meals over a 14-hour period – with an absence of true night-time fasting.

The factors contribute to the metabolic disorder. It typically develops in middle age – with unhealthy lifestyles playing a major role. Time-restricted eating (TRE) has become a fashionable dieting plan – with some increasing daily fasting spells for up to 16 hours.

The University of Illinois Chicago team studied 90 obese adults from the city. They were randomly assigned to eating from noon to 8pm only, reducing calorie intake by a quarter or eating as usual over ten hours or more throughout the day. The first two groups also met regularly with a dietician.

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Defying the Desk: An MMA Fighter’s Approach to Fitness in a 9-5 Job

Sedric Louissaint is a name synonymous with both power-packed punches in the MMA ring and skillful strategizing in the realm of cybersecurity. The notion of balancing an active lifestyle and a desk job seems like a myth to many. Yet, Louissaint shatters this misconception daily as he straddles the divide between the athletic and corporate worlds. His story inspires countless professionals seeking to uphold their fitness while negotiating the demands of desk-bound jobs.

As the CEO of Show Up Show Out Security, Sedric Louissaint is no stranger to sedentary desk work. Whether engaged in intensive problem-solving or mentoring cybersecurity enthusiasts, his profession often requires him to stay stationary, focused on multiple screens, eyes scouring lines of code, fingers flying over keys. However, Louissaint remains far removed from the stereotypical sedentary professional. With the same ease as he deciphers complex algorithms and thwarts cyber threats, Louissaint embraces the realm of physical fitness. His passion for mixed martial arts calls him to the gym to feel the adrenaline rush of a good fight and to experience the sweet exhaustion after a rigorous training session. Strikingly, he has found a rhythm that harmoniously blends the contrasting worlds of calm desk work and high-energy MMA training.

“Staying fit while working a desk job may seem challenging, but it’s manageable with a few strategies,” Louissaint professes. His approach is simple and effective, shedding light on strategies that can be implemented to maintain health and well-being. Incorporating regular movement into a daily routine might seem daunting to those working desk jobs. However, Louissaint insists it is much simpler than one might think. Stretching or walking every hour can drastically improve one’s well-being. It breaks the cycle of constant sitting and can refresh the body and the mind.

Sedric Louissaint_3

Technology can serve as an ally in this fitness journey. Louissaint suggests using a timer or reminder app to stay on track. These apps can work as personal fitness assistants, nudging one to stand, stretch, or walk briefly every hour. This routine keeps the body moving and breaks the persistent strain of desk work, reenergizing one for the tasks ahead. Simple exercises, while unconventional, can be integrated into the workday for significant health benefits. Louissaint suggests seated leg raises, chair squats, or desk push-ups. These exercises require no special equipment, only a little space, and can be effortlessly integrated into a workday.

Executing a few seated leg raises during a conference call, chair squats during a break, or desk push-ups before lunch can contribute towards maintaining an active body and improving strength and endurance.”The journey to staying fit while working a desk job is about embracing the unconventional. A few chair squats or desk push-ups can invigorate the body and keep the energy flowing,” Sedric encourages.

Correct posture is another aspect of fitness that Louissaint emphasizes. While sitting, it’s easy to sink into uncomfortable positions that strain the spine. However, a good posture can promote wellness as effectively as regular exercise. Louissaint advises, “Remember, sitting upright with feet flat on the floor, shoulders relaxed, and back supported can make a world of difference.” These minor adjustments in posture can reduce physical discomforts associated with desk jobs and significantly impact overall health and fitness. Beyond these daily fitness strategies, Louissaint’s lifestyle involves a lot of travel for his fighting career, meetings, and training programs. He doesn’t let travel hinder his fitness goals despite the potential disruptions to a regular fitness routine. He shares some essential items he always packs to ensure he stays in top shape on the move.

Sedric Louissaint

Carrying his MMA and boxing gloves is a must for Louissaint.”Having these handy allows me to squeeze in impromptu training sessions, no matter where I am.” These items enable him to continue training in a hotel gym or a local MMA studio.

Hand wraps, another essential item in his travel kit, protect his hands during intense training sessions, reducing injury risk. “Your hands are one of your most valuable assets in martial arts. It’s important to keep them always protected,” he adds. Louissaint considers a jump rope an indispensable tool for maintaining his cardio fitness on the move. “It’s lightweight, compact, and can be used anywhere. It’s a great way to keep my heart rate up, even when I can’t fit in a full workout,” he points out. Recovery is as crucial as training. Louissaint carries compression gear to expedite recovery after intense training sessions or fights. “It helps my muscles recover faster, so I can get back to training sooner,” he states. Louissaint always carries protein powder and vitamins for optimal nourishment. “Maintaining proper nutrition is critical for an athlete. These supplements ensure my body gets what it needs to perform at its best, no matter my location,” he maintains. With these travel tips, Louissaint demonstrates that it’s entirely feasible to maintain fitness while managing a demanding career and travel schedule. His unwavering commitment to health and fitness serves as an inspiration and a reminder that staying fit on the go requires planning, dedication, and a dash of creativity.

M&F and editorial staff were not involved in the creation of this content.

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Nutritionist shares 10 weight loss tips for ‘easy and quick’ fat burning

Losing weight is a huge endeavour and it’s understandable for anyone hoping to slim down to go back to the basics.

Eating healthy, exercising and sleeping well are no-brainers but they’re cardinal rules of weight loss for a reason. If you’re looking to build a consistent routine, slimming expert Donia Hilal has spoken to Holland & Barrett about 10 easy ways to burn fat, as reported by Wales Online.

Specialising in weight management, Donia is a nutritionist with a Bsc in Nutrition and is a Registered Associate Nutritionist and Certification who says there are “easy and quick” ways to tone up.

“Burning fat can be a real challenge. Whether it is in an attempt to improve your health or to get the look you are after, burning fat and toning up may well require changes to both your exercise routine and your diet,” said Donia.

“Luckily, there are some easy and quick ways in which you can burn fat.”

Strength training

Strength training can be more effective than only doing aerobic exercise(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Keeping fit with strength training is a big component of health nevertheless weight loss. This can mean lifting weights or and using your body weight to complete squats, push ups, and planks.

It could be even more worthwhile to train this way as studies have shown that strength training is more effective than aerobic exercise alone when it comes to fat loss.

Eat more protein

According to some studies, eating more protein can also help target belly fat.

Food like lean meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy products are all protein-packed foods that keep you feeling full for longer, and in doing so, decrease your appetite and reduce your calorie intake.

You don’t have to rely on animal products either. Some good plant-based options for protein include lentils, tofu and chickpeas.

Get your eight hours of sleep a night

Getting enough sleep will aid your appetite and weight loss efforts(Image: Getty Images)

We all know that a good night’s rest is a crucial part of healthy living, but when it comes to weight loss, sleep deprivation can contribute to an increased appetite and changes in hormones which cause you to become hungry and give you a higher risk of obesity.

Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night and try some natural sleep remedies such as lavender, valerian and chamomile.

Increase your soluble fibre intake

Another way to stay full is getting your fibre intake up and that can be helped along with soluble fibre. This type of fibre helps absorb water and forms a gel, which in turn helps slow down food passing through your digestive system.

HIIT workouts

Short for High Intensity Interval Training, HIIT is a type of high energy fat burning workout, which combines high intensity bursts of exercise with short periods of rest.

This keeps your heart rate up and burns more calories in a short period of time, compared to other forms of cardio – perfect if you are busy. Beginners should try PE with Joe on YouTube where fitness guru Joe Wicks leads you through live HIIT workouts each day.

Cut down on sugar

As delicious as they are, food that is high in sugar is often high in calories. What’s more, they won’t fill you up, meaning you will need to eat more of them to satisfy your sweet tooth. For a healthier option, swap sweets and chocolate for low calorie, naturally sweet foods such as dates, figs and pears or sugar free snacks.

Start your day with exercise

Exercising and a filling breakfast is a good fat-busting start to the day(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Hitting your workout in the morning can help you to lose 20 per cent more fat than exercising after you have your breakfast, according to some studies. Start your day with exercise and then follow up with a protein rich breakfast such as Greek yogurt, eggs or porridge, for a fat-burning start to the day.

Eat more slowly

Eating too quickly can lead to overeating. Slow yourself down by “mindfully” eating and concentrating on chewing each mouthful before you swallow. You sometimes still feel hungry straight after eating, so try to wait 20 minutes before you grab more food and see if you still want to eat more.

Reduce your portion sizes

Changing the size of your portions will help you to consume less calories.

An easy way to do this is to eat from a smaller plate. We always feel the need to fill all the space available on our plates and so a smaller plate will help to reduce the amount of food you consume.

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Avoid alcohol

Beer, alcopops and wine have some of the highest calorie content, so swap these for clear spirits such as gin or vodka and drink these with a diet mixer.

Try to have at least a couple of days a week which are alcohol free to save extra calories on these days.

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Maximize memory function with a nutrient-rich diet | Lifestyle

Research suggests that the ability to maximize memory function may be related to what you eat. Following an eating plan that provides a healthier selection of dietary fats and a variety of plant foods rich in phytonutrients could positively affect your health. Phytonutrients are substances found in certain plants that are believed to be beneficial for human health and help prevent certain diseases.

There’s still much to learn about what makes up a brain-healthy diet. Studies are finding that what’s good for your heart also may be good for your brain. So the best bet for rich memories is to forgo unhealthy fat and remember to diversify your plant-based food portfolio.

Foods that boost memory

Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, fish, healthier fats, and herbs or seeds boost the brain’s memory functioning. Here’s more about these powerhouse foods:


— Berries are high in antioxidants that can protect the brain from oxidative damage, and prevent premature aging and memory-impairing dementia. Blueberries are a rich source of anthocyanin and other flavonoids that may improve brain function.

— Grapes are full of resveratrol, a memory-boosting compound. Concord grapes are rich in polyphenols, which have the potential to promote brain function.

— Watermelon has a high concentration of lycopene, another powerful antioxidant. Watermelon also is a good source of pure water, which benefits brain health. Even a mild case of dehydration can reduce mental energy and impair memory.

— Avocados are a fruit rich in monounsaturated fat, which improves memory function by helping improve blood cholesterol levels when eaten in moderation in place of saturated fats.


— Beets are rich in nitrates, a natural compound that can dilate blood vessels, allowing more oxygenated blood to reach the brain.

— Dark, leafy greens are known for their antioxidants, such as vitamin C, and have been shown to reduce age-related memory loss. Greens also are rich in folate, which can improve memory by decreasing inflammation and improving blood circulation to the brain.

Whole grains and legumes

— Cracked wheat, whole-grain couscous, chickpeas, oats, sweet potatoes and black beans are examples of complex carbohydrates. Since brain cells run on glucose derived from carbohydrates and don’t store excess glucose, they need a steady supply of it. Complex carbohydrates are a preferred brain food, providing a slow, sustained supply of glucose. They take longer to metabolize and are high in folate, the memory-boosting B vitamin.


— Fatty fishes, such as salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and kippers, are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These have been shown to improve memory when eaten one to two times per week. Omega-3 fatty acids don’t affect low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and can lower triglycerides.

— Shellfish and crustaceans, such as oysters, mussels, clams, crayfish, shrimp and lobster, are good sources of vitamin B12, a nutrient involved in preventing memory loss.

Healthier fats

— Olive oil provides monounsaturated fat, which can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated or trans fat. Extra-virgin olive oil is the least processed type with the highest protective antioxidant compound levels.

— Nuts, such as walnuts, are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which lower triglycerides, improve vascular health, help moderate blood pressure and decrease blood clotting.

Herbs or seeds

— Cocoa seeds are a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants, which are especially important in preventing damage from LDL cholesterol, protecting arterial lining and preventing blood clots. Cocoa also contains arginine, a compound that increases blood vessel dilation.

— Rosemary and mint are in the same herb family. Rosemary has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, improving concentration and memory. Peppermint aroma has been found to enhance memory.

— Sesame seeds are a rich source of the amino acid tyrosine, which is used to produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for keeping the brain alert and memory sharp. Sesame seeds also are rich in zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6, other nutrients involved in memory function.

— Saffron has been shown to positively affect individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

Making lifestyle modifications to control your cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels, as well as not smoking, taking daily walks and keeping your weight in a healthy range can help preserve memory function.

Try this recipe that combines brain-boosting vegetables and healthier fats:

Beet walnut salad

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Serves 8

1 small bunch of beets (or enough no-salt-added canned beets to make 3 cups, drained)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon water

8 cups fresh salad greens

1/4 cup chopped apple

1/4 cup chopped celery

Freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons chopped walnuts

1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Steam raw beets in water in a saucepan until tender (skip this step if using canned beets). Slip off skins. Rinse to cool. Slice in 1/2-inch rounds. In a medium bowl, toss with red wine vinegar.

In a large bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil and water. Add salad greens and toss.

Put greens onto individual salad plates. Top with sliced beets, chopped apples and celery. Sprinkle with pepper, walnuts and cheese. Serve immediately.

Nutrition per serving size of 1 cup lettuce and 1/2 cup beets: 90 calories, 5 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 115 milligrams sodium, 9 grams carbohydrates, 2.5 grams fiber, 3 grams protein. 


Elizabeth (Lizzie) Bertrand is a registered dietitian in Nutrition in St. James, Minnesota. 


©2023 Mayo Clinic News Network. Visit newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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A Powerful Exercise for the Lower Abs

Lying leg raises, also called lying leg lifts, lying lateral leg raise, or straight leg raises, are a core-strengthening exercise that isolates the abdominal muscles. It is an easy bodyweight exercise that strengthens and challenges the entire abdominal muscles, especially the lower abs.

This exercise is basically a variation of the abdominal crunch that can help you develop massive core strength while also targeting a few of the lower body muscles. When done using the correct form and technique, lying lateral leg lifts target the rectus abdominis, lower back, hamstrings as well as hip flexor muscles.

How to Perform Lying Leg Raises Correctly?

Always do lying leg raises on an exercise mat. (Image via Pexels/Mikhail Nilov)

The flat straight leg raises help keep the lower abs under constant tension throughout the exercise, which, in turn, builds massive core strength and stability. Here’s how you can perform this powerful ab-building exercise:

Step 1: Begin by lying on the floor on your back. Keep your spine straight, your head neutral, and position your legs straight in the front. Tuck your hands underneath your lower back for stability and support.

Step 2: Now, with your legs straight and back pressed on the floor, lift your legs towards the ceiling as far as you can go while engaging your abs.

Step 3: Once your legs are up and your abs are fully contracted, lower your legs back to the floor and get into the initial position.

Aim to do the exercise at least 15 times for three sets and rest for a few seconds in between each set to relax and ease your muscles.

Common Variations to Try

When the standard lying leg raises feel easy, add a few variations to make the movement more challenging and productive. Try to perform the following variations to level up your core training:

Single-leg raises

Single-leg raises are an excellent beginner-level movement that’s performed using one leg at a time. You can either do this exercise using one leg for the desired number of reps or by alternating between both your legs. The remaining movements are the same as the standard lying leg lifts.

Weighted leg lifts

This is quite a challenging variation of the lying leg raise as it involves using free weights such as a dumbbell, kettlebell, or ankle weight. You can either hold the weight in your hands or place the weight in between your feet. The remaining movements remain the same. To make the exercise even more challenging, try holding a medicine ball between your feet.

When performing these variations, do not allow your legs to touch the floor. Instead, lift them as soon as they get near the floor at the end of the move.

You can use weights to make lying leg raises more challenging. (Image via Pexels/Pixabay)

Important Tips to Keep In Mind

While the lying lateral leg raise is an easy exercise, performing it incorrectly can put a strain on your lower back and even cause pain and injury. So, to avoid these, it is important to keep a check on your form and posture and also remember the following tips:

Take deep breaths

When doing this exercise, make sure you breathe deeply and hold the contraction for a few breaths to boost your muscle-mind connection.

Always keep your hands under your hips

Avoid placing your hands behind your head. This can cause strain in your neck and lead to pain. Instead, place your hands behind your hips and firmly push them while lifting your legs for extra support.

Do not lift your shoulders

When lifting your legs, avoid moving your shoulders and head. Always keep your torso pressed against the floor and move only through your lower body.

Lying Leg Raises Benefits

The lying leg lift is an excellent strength training movement to target the abdominal muscles, particularly the lower abs. This exercise not only works on the midsection, but it also strengthens some of the major lower body muscles, including the hamstrings and hip flexors, while also helping you build stronger and more defined abs.

Lying leg raises builds stronger abs. (Image via Freepik)

Practicing lying leg raises regularly will also improve your flexibility and stability, as well as your body balance. In addition to improving flexibility and stability, this exercise will ease lower back pain and stabilize the entire core muscles.

The best part about the lying lateral leg raise is that it’s a versatile exercise that can be easily practiced at home or in the gym. You can add it to your full-body strength training session or perform it as a part of your core-strengthening workout.

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Intermittent fasting and calorie counting both promote weight loss: study

When Krista Varady began studying intermittent fasting two decades ago, she felt her research wasn’t taken very seriously.

“All the previous diet fads focused so much on calorie counting or low-fat diets,” she said.

But a new study from Varady and a team of researchers, published Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that limiting food intake to a specific time window was as effective as calorie counting for weight loss.

Varady, a nutrition professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and her collaborators enrolled 77 people with obesity in Chicago — most of them Black or Hispanic — in their study, then assigned the participants to one of three routines for six months.

The first group practiced intermittent fasting, eating all of their calories between noon and 8 p.m. each day. The second group could eat whenever they wanted, but they tracked their calorie intake and reduced the total they normally ate in a day by 25%. The last group was the control group, so did not change their regular eating habits.

After the six-month period ended, the researchers tested whether the changes helped people keep weight off. For six more months, the intermittent fasting group expanded their eating window to 10 hours and the calorie counting group ate enough calories to satisfy their energy needs.

Both of the groups that followed a diet in the study’s first six months generally maintained the weight loss after their diets ended and lost 5% of their body weight over the course of a year, Varady said.

By the end of the year, the intermittent fasting group had consumed 425 fewer calories per day, on average, than the control group and lost about 10 more pounds. The calorie counting group, meanwhile, ate around 405 fewer calories per day than the control group and lost about 12 more pounds.

“What we’re showing is that people don’t have to do these complicated calorie counting diets, where people are always logging stuff into MyFitnessPal on their phone,” Varady said. “Instead of counting calories, they could just count time.”

Courtney Peterson, an associate professor of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who wasn’t involved in the research, said Varady’s study is “the longest and best test we have of calorie counting versus intermittent fasting.”

Time-restricted eating, Peterson added, offers “a simpler rule people can follow, and it’s producing the same weight loss effect as counting calories, so in my book, that’s actually a big victory.”

Conflicting research on intermittent fasting

Prior research on intermittent fasting has shown mixed results when it comes to weight loss.

A 2020 study found that restricting eating to a narrow time window was no better for weight loss than eating throughout the day. Another study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in January, suggested that eating fewer, smaller meals may actually be more effective for weight loss than time-restricted eating.

However, other research has indicated that intermittent fasting could help people with obesity lose weight.

In an editorial published alongside Varady’s research Monday, two Colorado researchers suggested that intermittent fasting likely only leads to weight loss under certain conditions.

The participants in Varady’s study, for instance, had regular telephone or Zoom calls with a registered dietitian.

“The registered dietitian support likely influenced dietary choices of persons within their 8-hour eating window,” the editorial said.

In general, people have more success with weight loss when they receive intensive counseling, said Dr. Adam Gilden, one of the editorial’s authors and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

“Based on the results of the study, you wouldn’t just tell a patient, ‘Try time-restricted eating on your own without behavioral support,'” he said.

However, Varady said the bulk of research has shown that intermittent fasting helps people eat less food, which in turn helps them lose weight.

Peterson said restricted eating windows can discourage snacking or mindless eating, and longer periods of fasting may naturally reduce people’s appetites. But one of the biggest reasons why intermittent fasting seems to help with weight loss, she added, is that people are willing to adhere to it.

“Most people hate counting calories because they have to monitor everything they eat,” she said.

Nutrition experts also agreed that regardless of diet strategy, people must consider the nutritional quality of their meals, such as how much fiber they’re getting or the quantity of fruits and vegetables they consume. Studies have shown that highly processed food such as hot dogs, chips or soda can contribute to weight gain.

“There’s nothing sort of magical about, ‘I’m only going to eat for these eight hours per day,'” Gilden said. “The person doing that strategy still has to pay attention to what types of foods they’re eating and the portions and the amounts.”

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