Walking just 4,000 steps a day can lower your risk of death, study reveals

Wellness

Outdoor Exercise Is Popular Release During Pandemic Lockdown

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Key Takeaways
  • The research, which was published in a peer-reviewed study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, is a meta-analysis of 17 studies around the world involving participants who “were generally healthy when they entered the studies analyzed.”
  • The “observational” study found that the more you walk, the greater the health benefits, but taking as little as 3,967 daily steps could reduce the risk of death from any cause and 2,337 steps a day may be sufficient to reduce the risk of dying from diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
  • The basis of the finding rests on the premise that people can cut the risk of death associated with cardiovascular disease by 7% for every additional 500 steps walked, and increasing the daily step count by 1,000 can lead to a substantial 15% reduction in the risk of dying from any cause.
  • Continuing to walk as many as 20,000 steps each day will consistently enhance health benefits, according to the study, which also recommends further confirmation with “larger groups of people,” though it did not determine whether there were benefits to taking more than 20,000 steps per day.
  • Although the study could not account for differences in race and socioeconomic status, the findings apply to everyone regardless of their gender, age or location, according to lead researcher Maciej Banach, professor of cardiology at the Medical University of Lodz in Poland, and adjunct professor at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Big Number

226,889. That’s the total number of “generally healthy” people who participated in the 17 cohort studies analyzed for the research, which claimed to be the world’s largest analysis conducted on the health effects of step-taking. The study observed a “significant inverse association between daily step count” and the risk of death either from any cause or cardiovascular disease.

Just 4,000 steps a day can lower the risk of early death, the study found | Image: Howard Schnapp/Newsday RM via Getty Images
Key Background

Low physical activity, commonly referred to as a sedentary lifestyle, ranks as the fourth-leading cause of death in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Approximately 1.5 billion people around the world are considered physically inactive, resulting in around 3.2 million annual deaths.

The study finds strong evidence that “a sedentary lifestyle may contribute to an increase in cardiovascular disease and a shorter life.” Banach said in a statement that he believes 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” than advanced drugs targeting cardiovascular disease.

While “the simplest form of physical activity is walking”, the emergence of Covid-19 pandemic reduced the average global daily step count to 5,323 steps, and it has not returned to pre-pandemic levels two years later, according to the study.

This article was first published on forbes.com

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