5,000 Steps Reduces Risk of Death, Study Suggests

The number of steps you need to take each day to start experiencing health benefits is lower than previously believed, according to the most extensive study to date. In fact, 5,000 steps everyday is better than none.

Walking has been scientifically proven to help with one's health, from losing a couple of pounds to becoming more active. Now, scientists say even a short walk can really help with lowering one's risk of becoming ill.

The study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, found that walking 2,337 steps per day decreased the risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases, while walking at least 3,967 steps per day decreased the risk of dying from any cause.

Walking, no matter what amount, is beneficial according to new research of 226,889 people from 17 different studies conducted globally. Every additional 500 to 1,000 steps you walk lowers your risk of passing away from cardiovascular disease.

The chance of dying from any cause decreased by 15%, with an increase of 1,000 steps per day. On the other hand, the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was reduced by 7%, with an increase of 500 steps per day.

Researchers at the Medical University of Lodz in Poland and the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, led by Maciej Banach, found that the health advantages increased even if people took as many as 20,000 steps daily.

They have yet to discover an upper bound.

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.

- Maciej Banach

Strong evidence suggests that a sedentary lifestyle may raise the risk of cardiovascular disease and shorten lifespan. Studies have found that approximately 25% of the world's population suffers from inadequate physical exercise. People in higher-income nations than lower-income countries and more women than males do not engage in enough physical activity.

According to the lead author, Ibadete Bytyçi of the University Clinical Centre of Kosovo, it hasn't always been clear how many steps are ideal, both in terms of the thresholds over which we can begin to experience health benefits and the upper limit, if any, and the significance of this for people's health.

He emphasized that more significant populations need to be tested to corroborate these findings because there aren't enough data points available on step counts up to 20,000 per day.

This meta-analysis is the first to evaluate the impact of walking up to 20,000 steps per day and to see whether there are any variations based on age, sex, or geographic location. The researchers tracked participants in the trials they examined for, on average, seven years.

The participants' average age was 64, and 49% were female. The mortality risk reduction was lower in those 60 years of age and older than in those under 60. Those older persons who walked between 6,000 and 10,000 steps per day had a 42% reduction in risk, whereas younger adults who walked between 7,000 and 13,000 steps per day saw a 49% reduction in risk.

Both strengths are the meta-analysis's size and the fact that it was open to looking at studies with a daily step restriction of at most 16,000. Since it was observational research, its limitations include the inability to establish causality — only that higher step counts are related to a decreased chance of mortality.

Since all the participants in the research were in generally good health, the effect of step counts on persons with various disorders was not examined. The researchers did not consider race and socioeconomic level disparities, and different studies used different ways to quantify steps in this meta-analysis.


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