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Your daily walking goal should change based on how old you are, study finds

Older consumers may not need to take as many steps to reap the benefits of physical activity

Senior walking on beach with dog concept
Photo (c) Yoshiyoshi Hirokawa - Getty Images
Staying active is an important component of living a longer life, and walking is one of the best ways for consumers to consistently be moving. Now, researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst explored how many daily steps are really needed for consumers to experience health benefits

According to their findings, age plays an important role in the target for daily steps. Older consumers may only need to take about 6,000 to 8,000 steps per day to increase their chances of living a longer life. However, they say younger consumers would need to be in the 8,000- to 10,000-step range each day to get those same benefits. 

“The major takeaway is there’s a lot of evidence suggesting that moving even a little more is beneficial, particularly for those who are doing very little activity,” said researcher Amanda Paluch. “More steps per day are better for your health. And the benefit in terms of mortality risk levels off around 6,000 to 8,000 for older adults and 8,000 to 10,000 for younger adults.” 

Walking leads to longer life

The researchers analyzed over a dozen earlier studies that included data on nearly 50,000 people over the age of 18 to better understand how many steps are really needed each day to live a longer life. Many consumers have heard that 10,000 steps should be their daily goal, and the researchers were trying to understand the validity behind that guidance. 

The study showed that age played an important role in how many steps consumers should be taking each day to lower their risk of premature death. Older consumers didn’t have to take as many steps as younger consumers to get the same benefits. 

The researchers learned that those over the age of 60 should be taking between 6,000 and 8,000 steps per day to help promote longevity. Comparatively, those under the age of 60 should be in the 8,000- to 10,000-step-per-day range. The team explained that doing more steps than the recommended totals can certainly be good for overall health, but they aren’t likely to add to your life expectancy. 

“So, what we saw was this incremental reduction in risk as steps increase, until it levels off,” said Paluch. “And the leveling occurred at different step values for older versus younger adults.” 

The researchers noted that the number of steps was the most important factor in their study; the participants’ walking speed didn’t influence their risk of premature death. The team hopes these findings can be used to encourage consumers to adjust their daily walking goals.

“Steps are very simple to track, and there is a rapid growth of fitness tracking devices,” Paluch said. “It’s such a clear communication tool for public health messaging.” 

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