Walking 10,000 steps a day is linked to improved health and reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. Although it is still a healthy target to achieve, researchers now say even walking around 4,000 steps a day could help reduce the risk of early death.

According to the latest study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, the more you walk, the better it is, but walking a minimum of 3,967 steps a day reduces the risk of dying from any cause, and the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases reduces with 2,337 steps a day.

After analyzing data from 226,889 people from 17 different studies across the world, the team found that all-cause mortality reduces by 15% with each additional 1,000 steps taken daily. Additionally, with an increase in 500 steps, the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases reduces by 7%.

The benefits were there even at 20,000 steps a day. Researchers could not find a maximum threshold.

"Our study confirms that the more you walk, the better. We found that this applied to both men and women, irrespective of age, and irrespective of whether you live in a temperate, sub-tropical, or sub-polar region of the world, or a region with a mixture of climates. In addition, our analysis indicates that as little as 4,000 steps a day are needed to significantly reduce deaths from any cause, and even fewer to reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease," Dr. Maciej Banach, the study's lead author, said in a news release.

The findings also suggest that when people start walking before the age of 60, the benefits are more. People below the age of 60 experienced a 49% reduction in the overall risk of mortality when they walked between 7,000 to 13,000 steps daily, while those aged 60 and above showed a 42% reduction in risk when they walked between 6,000 and 10,000 steps daily.

"The main message is that we should have as many steps as possible and we should start as early as possible in order to have the highest health benefits," Banach said.

"In a world where we have more and more advanced drugs to target specific conditions such as cardiovascular disease, I believe we should always emphasize that lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, which was a main hero of our analysis, might be at least as, or even more effective in reducing cardiovascular risk and prolonging lives," the researcher added.