Counting steps could help cut risk of chronic diseases

Credit: Kamil S/ Unsplash.

An activity tracker, also known as a fitness tracker, is a device or application for monitoring and tracking fitness-related metrics such as distance walking or run, calorie consumption, and in some cases heartbeat.

In a study from Vanderbilt University, scientists found using a wearable activity tracker to count and increase the number and intensity of steps taken daily can reduce the risk of several common chronic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and sleep apnea.

They analyzed an average of four years of activity and health data from more than 6,000 participants who wore Fitbit activity trackers at least 10 hours a day, and who provided access to their heart rates.

The researchers compared the incidence of various diseases across the entire human phenome of observable traits and conditions in the general population to Fitbit-wearing participants in the study.

They found taking more than 8,200 steps per day (about 4 miles) was found to protect against obesity, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and depression.

They also found that overweight individuals can reduce their risk of becoming obese by 64% if they increase their daily steps from 6,000 to 11,000.

Risk declined for most conditions as the number of steps increased, except for the risk of hypertension and diabetes, which did not decline further after participants reached about 8,000 to 9,000 steps per day.

The team found Fitbit-wearing participants tend to be more active than the average adult, but robust associations between steps and disease suggest even stronger associations may exist in a more sedentary population.

They say that these findings provide a necessary first step toward the development of personalized activity prescriptions.

Wearables can encourage patients to exercise by enabling them to set, measure and track their fitness goals.

If you care about wellness, please read studies that patience could increase your longevity, and fatigue feelings may predict death risk.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to severe COVID-19 and death, and results showing the optimal daily walking steps for longevity.

The study was conducted by Evan Brittain et al and published in Nature Medicine.

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