Scientists find optimal daily walking steps for longevity

Credit: Henry Xu/Unsplash.

In a new study from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, researchers found that taking more steps a day could help lower the risk of premature death.

To be specific, for adults 60 and older, the risk of premature death leveled off at about 6,000-8,000 steps per day, meaning that more steps than that provided no additional benefit for longevity.

Adults younger than 60 saw the risk of premature death stabilize at about 8,000-10,000 steps per day.

As the steps increase, the risk of premature death decreases, until the risk levels off.

Interestingly, the study didn’t find a definitive association with walking speed, beyond the total number of steps per day.

In other words, regardless of the pace at which you walked, walking was linked to a lower risk of death.

The often-repeated 10,000-steps-a-day mantra grew out of a decades-old marketing campaign for a Japanese pedometer. But, there was no clear scientific evidence to support the mantra.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, updated in 2018, recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week.

Researchers in the study aims to establish the evidence base to guide recommendations for simple, accessible physical activity, such as walking.

In the current study, the team examined combined the evidence from 15 studies that investigated the effect of daily steps on all-cause mortality among adults age 18 and older.

They grouped the nearly 50,000 participants into four comparative groups according to average steps per day.

The lowest step group averaged 3,500 steps; the second, 5,800; the third, 7,800; and the fourth, 10,900 steps per day.

They found that among the three higher active groups who got more steps a day, there was a 40% to 53% lower risk of death, compared to the lowest quartile group who walked fewer steps.

The findings suggest that moving even a little more is beneficial, particularly for those who are doing very little activity.

The benefit in terms of mortality risk levels off around 6,000 to 8,000 for older adults and 8,000 to 10,000 for younger adults.

If you care about exercise, please read studies about walking exercise that could keep older people fit and health, and no pain, no gain in exercise for this common artery disease.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies about the key to improving older people’s longevity, and results showing how to use exercise to prevent and treat high blood pressure.

The study was conducted by Amanda E. Paluch et al., and published in The Lancet Public Health.

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