Can't Quite Reach 10,000 Steps Per Day? Study Finds Even a Few Thousand Steps Are Beneficial

Can't Quite Reach 10,000 Steps Per Day? Study Finds Even a Few Thousand Steps Are Beneficial

Inactivity can lead to many health issues, including a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even some cancers. This knowledge has led many people to embrace daily step goals to ensure they move around enough. The standard has been 10,000 steps per day, but a new study finds even a few thousand are enough to lower your risk of death from certain diseases.

Research recently published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology looked at the optimum step total for decreased mortality, finding that even 2,337 steps per day were linked with a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Push that to 3,967 steps, and all-cause mortality was lowered. For people who may not have the time or ability to get 10,000 steps per day, the findings suggest just moving when you can may provide important benefits.

Maciej Banach, lead researcher and Professor of Cardiology at the Medical University of Lodz, Poland, says, “Our study confirms that the more you walk, the better. We found that this applied to both men and women, irrespective of age, and irrespective of whether you live in a temperate, sub-tropical or sub-polar region of the world, or a region with a mixture of climates.”

The team also found that the benefits were boosted with each incremental increase in steps. For every 1,000 additional steps per day, there was a 15% reduction in all-cause mortality, while 500 more steps were associated with a 7% reduction in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. This benefit was found to persist up to 20,000 steps per day, though there was little data on these higher totals, so the researchers caution that further study is needed to confirm that.

The study involved data from nearly 227,000 people from 17 different studies across the world, with an average age of 64. In data from participants 60 and older, the association wasn’t quite as strong. For those in this age group, 6,000 to 10,000 steps per day were linked with a 42% reduction in all-cause mortality, while it was 49% in younger participants who got between 7,000 and 13,000 steps per day.

The researchers say these findings show that small personal changes could make a big difference to our health.

Banach says, “In a world where we have more and more advanced drugs to target specific conditions such as cardiovascular disease, I believe we should always emphasise that lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, which was a main hero of our analysis, might be at least as, or even more effective in reducing cardiovascular risk and prolonging lives. We still need good studies to investigate whether these benefits may exist for intensive types of exertion, such as marathon running and iron man challenges, and in different populations of different ages, and with different associated health problems. However, it seems that, as with pharmacological treatments, we should always think about personalising lifestyle changes.”

Another recent study found something similar: that adding incremental step increases each day was linked with a lower risk of premature death. More steps were also found to lower dementia risk. You can read more on that here.

Michelle Milliken

Michelle has a journalism degree and has spent more than seven years working in broadcast news. She's also been known to write some silly stuff for humor websites. When she's not writing, she's probably getting lost in nature, with a fully-stocked backpack, of course.

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