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Not enough time to walk 10,000 steps? Here are two alternatives that are just as beneficial, studies say

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(NEW YORK) — Walking 10,000 steps per day is known to improve a person’s health, but reaching that goal can be difficult for many, considering it’s the equivalent of walking around 5 miles.

Now, new research is showing more efficient ways to get similar health benefits without devoting at least an hour per day to walking.

Taking the stairs is one way, according to a study of over 450,000 adults.

The study, published in the medical journal Atherosclerosis, found that climbing five flights of stairs per day — or around 50 steps — lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 20%.

In addition, the same benefits are found when the climbing is broken up into smaller segments throughout the day, versus climbing five flights at once, the study found.

“If you choose one flight of stairs, you go up it two to three times a day,” said ABC News medical correspondent Dr. Darien Sutton, an emergency medicine physician, who was not involved in the study. “If you’re working in an office, choose a bathroom that’s on a different floor.”

Sutton noted that in addition to helping to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, climbing stairs can also help reduce the risk of diabetes and can help improve muscle strength.

Another study, published Tuesday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, echoed the findings that short bursts of activity can do the body good.

The study found that just 20 to 25 minutes per day of vigorous movement — activities like walking briskly, jogging and cycling — can help a person live longer.

On the flip side, people who spend most of their day sedentary, either lying or sitting down with less than 20 minutes of activity, had an increased mortality risk of as much as 40%, the study found.

“It’s just an example that movement is a true key to longevity,” Sutton said of the study, in which he was not involved. “And it only takes a couple of minutes a day just to get that benefit.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, which is the equivalent of 30 minutes a day, five days per week.

The CDC also recommends that adults get two days of muscle strengthening activity per week.

And the CDC also says adults do not have to do all 30 minutes of exercise daily at one time, noting, “You can spread your activity out during the week and break it up into smaller chunks of time.”

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