- A recent study finds that walking between 6,000 and 9,000 steps per day is linked to a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease in older adults.
- Each additional 1,000 steps taken daily, especially for people who currently walk less than 3,000 steps per day, marks a substantial reduction in cardiovascular risk.
- The study analyzed data from more than 20,000 people in the United States and 42 other countries.
- Experts say it is not difficult to track daily step count even without a fitness tracker.
A new study suggests that people over 60 could significantly reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by walking between 6,000 and 9,000 steps per day.
This study focuses on the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). This is a companion to an earlier study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN. The previous study demonstrated that walking 8,200 steps a day can reduce the risk of a wide range of chronic health conditions.
The new study reports the results of a meta-analysis of eight prospective studies using health data from 20,152 people in the United States and 42 other countries. Their average age was 63.2 years, more or less 12.4 years, of which 52% were women.
The study appears in the journal
Medical News Today spoke with Dr. Amanda Paluch, a physical activity epidemiologist and kinesiologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who leads the Steps for Health Collaborative. Dr Paluch said people who currently walk between 2,000 and 3,000 steps a day would experience the most significant reduction in CVD risk by walking more.
For those already taking 7,000 steps a day, the improvement would be less dramatic, though still significant, Dr. Paluch noted.
The study found that for every 1,000 steps added, there was a progressive reduction in CVD risk.
Dr. Paluch said DTM:
“There was no upper limit at which there was no additional benefit in our study. Each incremental increase was associated with a lower risk of heart disease in older adults.
The analysis found a gradual reduction in CVD risk for people walking up to 15,000 steps per day. Since the original studies went no further than that, Dr. Paluch said his analysis offered no insight into the possible benefits of taking more than 15,000 steps per day.
The study suggests that people hoping to reduce their risk of CVD can consider setting goals that seem more achievable than the oft-cited goal of 10,000 steps per day, which isn’t based on scientific research. It was originally promoted as part of a 1964 product marketing campaign.
While it’s true that more steps are better – the most important thing is to increase the number of steps.
The study found no association between increased step count and reduced CVD risk in young adults.
Dr Paluch said this was not surprising since cardiovascular disease is largely a disease of the elderly. The study reports that only 4.2% of young adults had subsequent cardiovascular events, compared to 9.5% of older adults.
That doesn’t mean young adults shouldn’t exercise for their cardiovascular health, Dr. Paluch said:
“For young adults, physical activity benefits many precursors of cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, obesity and type 2 diabetes. These conditions are more likely to develop in young adults and are important for the early prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Cardiologist Dr. Yu-Ming Ni, of noninvasive cardiology at MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif., was not involved in the study.
“Steps alone should not be used to assess how much exercise is enough,” Dr. Ni said. DTM.
“Ideally, exercise should be intentional and daily, with at least moderate intensity,” he said. “Young adults should also focus on incorporating involuntary exercises into their daily activities, such as taking the stairs above the elevator, walking in preference to driving, [and] more physically active hobbies.
“I encourage older people to get a step tracker,” Dr. Ni said, “since it’s now extremely easy to get them for little to no cost. Pedometers and step counters are often provided by health insurance companies and Medicare Advantage plans to encourage exercise.
“Step trackers can be a great way to monitor and inspire you to reach your next goals,” Dr. Paluch noted.
Dr Ni added that many smartphones have built-in trackers, so people may find they already have one.
However, there are other ways to count steps, Dr. Paluch said. For example, half a mile equals approximately 1,000 steps.
You can also measure your steps based on the duration of your walk. Brisk walking, considered a moderate-intensity activity, is about 100 steps per minute. The study found no further reduction in CVD risk from walking faster than this.