The Unexamined Life

Research Quashes Claim That 10,000 Steps Are Needed Daily For Improved Lifespan

Previous research claimed that walking 10,000 steps a day improves mortality. A recent study, however, showed that older women reduced their risk of premature death by walking about 4,000 steps a day only.

The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that older women need not perform 10,000 steps per day to prevent premature death. The study analyzed 17,000 women with an average age of 72 years old and found that those who performed 4,000 steps daily increased their mortality by 41 percent. Those who only took 2,700 steps had higher chances of premature death while those who did 7,500 steps a day leveled their risk of dying with the previous category.

According to the study’s lead author and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s School of Public Health Dr. I-Min Lee, their research confirmed that physical activity improves one’s health. The new findings, however, pinpointed that a little effort, even if it does not reach 10,000 steps daily, affords the same benefits. Unfortunately, the study was only limited to older women. Further research needs to be conducted to determine if the same benefits hold true for men and younger people.

The standard for the number of steps required to improve one’s lifespan was not clear, but the researchers divided the women into four groups: 2,700, 4,400, 5,900 and 8,500 steps per day. Out of all the participants, only 500 women died in a span of four years. In addition, there was a drop of 46 percent among those who did 5,900 steps compared to the less active group. They also concluded that the level of intensity did not make a difference when it came to the benefits obtained from physical activity.

The study did not also consider how extra physical activity lowers the risk of death but only how it relieves high blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels that are associated with the most common diseases that lead to premature death, such as diabetes, stroke and heart failure. Additionally, researchers found that regular physical activity greatly improves memory and thinking skills including quality of life.

As per Better Health, walking for 30 minutes per day or most days of the week improves overall health. Although there is no exact time frame specified to reap such health improvement, consulting with a doctor to determine an appropriate fitness program increases the chances of improving overall health in people 40 years of age and above.

Monk Walking A monk walking in an aisle of petals. Honey Kochphon Onshawee/Pixabay