Saturday, June 22, 2019

Need 10,000 Steps A Day?

My step count today
I've had many patients wear activity trackers just so they know how steps they take each day. 10,000 steps a day seems to be the standard recommendation to lose weight, lower risk of heart disease and to be healthy.

In fact a few years ago, the Health Promotion Board even had a contest that enabled participants to win air tickets if they accumulated 10,000 steps daily.

Do we really need to take 10,000 steps a day to be healthy? We are likely to assume it is 10,000 steps since many of our watches, smart phones and activity trackers use that number as a goal.

Well, newly published research shows that you don't necessarily have to walk 10,000 steps to reap the full benefits.

The researchers studied 17,000 women by having them wear an activity tracker the whole time during their waking hours for seven days. The tracker tracked the steps each subject took per minute during the day, but without showing any readout of the totals so the subjects would not know or respond to the count. The subjects were monitored for four years after the study.

Those who walked an average of 2,700 steps a day had the highest risk of dying.

After that, the more steps they took, the longer their lifespan up to a 7,500 steps. After 7,500 steps, there were no extra benefits. Intensity did not matter. How fast or slow the subjects walked made no difference.

The sweet spot for reducing the risk of dying prematurely was about 4,400 steps per day. Compared to those who walked 2,700 steps, those who walked 4,400 steps per day had  a 41 per lower risk of death.

Now you know.

IM Lee, Shiroma EJ et al (2019). Association Of Step Volume And Intensity With All-cause Mortality In Older Women. JAMA. DOI: 10.1001/kamainternmed.2019.0889.

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