Want to live longer? Just 4,000 steps a day may be all you need

Staying active can help reduce the risk of death from any cause

For years, many of us have been living by the long-held belief that our daily step count should reach or exceed 10,000. However, researchers from the European Society of Cardiology have found this may not be necessary to reap health benefits. 

According to their findings, walking and staying active is crucial to living longer and lowering the risk of death, but keeping your daily step count to around 4,000 per day can yield those benefits.

While exceeding that number is associated with greater health outcomes, the study showed that staying around 4,000 steps per day was linked with a lower risk of death from any cause. 

“Our study confirms that the more you walk, the better,” said lead researcher Maciej Banach. “We found that this applied to both men and women, irrespective of age, and irrespective of whether you live in a temperate, subtropical, or subpolar 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.” 

Walking for longer life 

For the study, the researchers analyzed 17 earlier studies that included data on roughly 227,000 people. The team was most curious to understand how daily step count affected the participants’ risk of death from any cause, as well as the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. 

Their work revealed that walking is beneficial to consumers’ health and wellness, but the number of steps to take daily to retain the most health benefits may not need to be as high as many have believed. 

The study found that taking at least 2,337 steps per day reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, while taking at least 3,867 steps per day reduced the risk of death from any cause. 

However, the more steps taken above those figures, the better the health outcomes. Taking 1,000 more steps than those recommended numbers was linked with a 15% lower risk of dying from any cause while taking an additional 500 steps daily lowered the risk of cardiovascular-related death by 7%.

These benefits continued to increase the more that the participants walked – even with as many as 20,000 steps a day. 

Younger adults have a slight advantage

The average age of the participants in the study was 64, and the researchers found that age might play a role when it comes to walking and health outcomes. 

Adults under the age of 60 had a nearly 50% lower risk of death when they took between 7,000 and 13,000 steps daily. Comparatively, adults over the age of 60 had a 42% lower risk of death when they took between 6,000 and 10,000 steps daily. 

Overall, the researchers hope that both consumers and medical professionals look to the benefits of daily exercise when thinking about improving health outcomes. 

“In a world where we have 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,” Banach said. 

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