Walking at least 7,000 steps per day, a new study found, lowered the risk of premature death in middle-aged people from all causes by 50-70%, compared to other middle-aged people who walked less. not a day.
The results of the study were published in the journal ‘JAMA Network Open’.
But walking more than 10,000 steps a day – or walking faster – did not further reduce the risk, noted lead author Amanda Paluch, a physical activity epidemiologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
The results underscore the evolution of efforts to establish evidence-based guidelines for simple and accessible physical activity that benefits health and longevity, such as walking.
The oft-advised 10,000 steps per day is not a scientifically established guideline, but emerged as part of a decades-old marketing campaign for a Japanese pedometer, said Paluch, assistant professor of kinesiology at the School. public health and health sciences.
A question that Paluch and his colleagues wanted to start answering: How many steps per day do we need for health benefits?
“It would be great to know for a public health message or for clinician-patient communication,” she said.
The researchers extracted data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, which began in 1985 and is still ongoing.
Some 2,100 participants aged 38 to 50 wore an accelerometer in 2005 or 2006.
They were followed for almost 11 years after that, and the resulting data was analyzed in 2020 and 2021.
Participants were separated into three comparison groups: low pitch volume (less than 7,000 per day), moderate (between 7,000 and 9,999), and high (over 10,000).
“You see this gradual reduction in the risk of mortality as you take more steps,” Paluch said.
“There were substantial health benefits between 7,000 and 10,000 steps, but we did not see an additional benefit from going beyond 10,000 steps,” Paluch added.
“For people at 4,000 steps, reaching 5,000 is significant. And from 5,000 to 6,000 steps, there is a gradual reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality down to about 10,000 steps,” Paluch explained.
Several features make this study particularly interesting and informative.
On the one hand, it involved middle-aged people, while most of the stage studies have focused on the elderly.
So the results may begin to suggest ways to keep people healthier for longer and to avoid premature death, as some participants experienced.
“Preventing these deaths before the average life expectancy – that’s a big deal,” Paluch said.
“Showing that the number of steps per day could be associated with premature mortality is a new contribution in the field,” added Paluch.
The study also included an equal number of black and white men and women and participants.
Death rates for people walking at least 7,000 steps per day were lowest among women and blacks, compared to their more sedentary peers.
But there was a limited sample of people who died, and Paluch warns researchers need to study more diverse populations to assess statistically significant differences in gender and race.
Paluch looks forward to continuing to research the impact of daily steps on health and how walking can benefit in various ways at different stages of life.
“We only looked at one outcome here – all-cause deaths. The association might be different depending on your outcome of interest,” she concluded.
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