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Over and over again, the research tells us that to live longer, shoot for 10,000 steps a day.
And it makes sense…
But is the number of steps associated with how much you walk the only factor in determining the health benefits you can achieve?
Not according to these researchers…
Beyond counting steps
That question has finally been answered by researchers from the University of Sydney and University of Southern Denmark.
For the study, the scientists monitored over 78,000 adults using wearable trackers, like FitBits, comparing both the participants’ number of steps and their walking pace to their risk of disease and death in the next seven years.
It was no surprise that they confirmed walking 10,000 steps a day as the ‘sweet spot’ for living a longer, disease-free life.
In fact, according to the researchers, hitting the 10,000 steps-a-day mark lowered the risk of dementia, heart disease, cancer and death.
However, they also found that how fast you walk could be just as important…
That’s because setting a faster pace, like going for a power walk, showed benefits above and beyond the number of steps achieved.
Here’s how the results broke down:
- Every 2,000 steps lowered risks for premature death, heart disease and cancer by 8 to 11 percent, up to approximately 10,000 steps a day.
- A higher number of steps per day was associated with a lower risk of all-cause dementia.
- 9,800 steps was the optimal dose linked to lowering risk for dementia by 50 percent. However, that risk was reduced by 25 percent by walking as few as 3,800 steps a day. That’s great news for those who are less active!
- Stepping intensity or a faster pace showed beneficial associations for all outcomes (dementia, heart disease, cancer and death) over and above total daily steps.
“The take-home message here is that for protective health benefits people could not only ideally aim for 10,000 steps a day but also aim to walk faster,” said co-lead author Dr. Matthew Ahmadi.
Pick up the pace for better health
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t all that surprised by these findings…
A Duke University study a few years ago found that slow walkers are more likely to show signs of accelerated aging and cognitive decline.
Another study from Brazil found that slow walking can predict frailty with age — which usually leads to early death or at the least poor quality of life.
So grab that step tracker, but be sure to set goals to get results, including the number of steps you’ll take and — just as importantly — how fast you’ll walk.
Take a walk before you begin your workday in the morning, and walk during your lunchtime and after dinner. And consider parking at the back of the lot to get more steps in during every shopping trip.
To determine if you’re walking briskly enough to get the most benefits, try the singing test.
If you can talk as you walk, but can’t sing, your pace is on target to help you achieve better health and a longer life.
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Pace as important as 10,000 steps for health — ScienceDaily