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Exact number of daily steps to avoid an early death REVEALED – and it’s NOT 10,000


Ten thousand daily steps may no longer be the sweet spot for heart health. 

For another lower exercise target could be even more effective at reducing the risk of an early death, researchers have suggested.

Walking just 2,700 steps a day — or around 2km (1.2 miles) — is enough to lower the chance of dying young or suffering from heart attacks or strokes, scientists found.

But hitting 8,700 reduced the risk by up to 60 per cent, a study shows.

The findings provide ‘simple and concrete targets for the number of daily steps’, the researchers said. 

Walking just 8,000 steps per day ¿ or 6.4km ¿ may lower the risk of an early death, with 7,000 cutting cardiovascular disease risk by more than half. Any more than 8,000 has minimal added benefit, according to the study, despite what fitness gurus may say

Walking just 8,000 steps per day — or 6.4km — may lower the risk of an early death, with 7,000 cutting cardiovascular disease risk by more than half. Any more than 8,000 has minimal added benefit, according to the study, despite what fitness gurus may say

The team, led by researchers from the University of Granada in Spain, reviewed 12 international studies which assessed the effect of daily steps on mortality from all causes for more than 110,000 participants.

Results, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, showed participants who walked 2,517 steps per day had an eight per cent lower risk of dying early, compared to those who only walked 2,000 steps daily.

Meanwhile, hitting 2,735 squashed the risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease by 11 per cent. 

However, even bigger benefits were seen by those who walked more. 

The sweet spot for reducing the chance of dying early was 8,763, which was liked with a 60 per cent reduced risk.

For cardiovascular disease, 7,126 steps per day was linked with the biggest drop in risk, of 51 per cent. 

The study, which also involved researchers in the Netherlands, Spain and the US, found no difference in the ideal step count between men and women.

A faster pace, however, was associated with a reduced mortality risk — regardless of the total number of steps per day.

The study’s lead author, Professor Francisco Ortega from the University of Granada’s department of physical education and sport, said: ‘Traditionally, many people thought that you had to reach about 10,000 steps a day to obtain health benefits, an idea that came out of Japan in the 1960s but had no basis in science.

‘More steps are never bad. Our study showed that even as many as 16,000 steps a day does not pose a risk.

‘On the contrary, there are additional benefits compared to walking 7,000-9,000 steps a day, but the differences in risk reduction are small. 

‘Furthermore, the step target should be age appropriate, with younger people being able to set a higher target than older people.’ 

Dr Esmée Bakker, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in aerobic exercise and cardiovascular disease at the University of Granada, added: ‘What makes our study different is that, for the first time, we set clear step targets.

‘In this study, we show that measurable benefits can be obtained with small increases in the number of steps per day, and that for people with low levels of physical activity, every additional 500 steps improves their health. 

Dr Bakker added: ‘Most people don’t know what exercises count as moderate intensity, making it difficult to verify their compliance with this exercise standard. 

‘Counting steps is much simpler, especially since most people have a smartphone or smartwatch these days.’

However, the researchers acknowledged the study only considered the risk of death and cardiovascular disease and did not examine how it may affect other factors, such as sleep quality and mental health.

Additionally, they didn’t consider whether the ideal step count was the same between different population groups, such as older or low-income populations. 

But the findings add to a wealth of evidence that even minor bouts of exercise can aid health.

Studies have previously shown walking just an additional 1,000 steps per day could reduce mortality risk by up to 12 to 15 per cent. 

The 10,000 step target was designed by a Japanese marketing campaign for a pedometer in the wake of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. 

At that time, there was an increased focus on fitness in the host nation and firms had tried to capitalise on the craze surrounding the Games.

One campaign involved the marketing of Yamasa’s pedometer called the Manpo-kei, which literally means ‘10,000 steps metre’ in Japanese.

But the arbitrary figure was never grounded in science. Instead, the number was selected because the benchmark was a nice, round memorable figure. 

Around 7.6million Britons and 48million Americans are living with cardiovascular disease, which is the general term for a swathe of conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels.

It is usually linked to a build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries (atherosclerosis) and an increased risk of blood clots.

The figures are expected to rise due to ageing and growing populations and improved survival rate from heart and circulatory diseases.

However, cardiovascular disease can be largely prevented by living a good lifestyle, such as by quitting smoking, eating a balanced diet, regular exercise and cutting down on alcohol, health chiefs say.

HOW MUCH EXERCISE YOU NEED

To stay healthy, adults aged 19 to 64 should try to be active daily and should do:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking every week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Or:

  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Or:

  • a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week – for example, 2 x 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of brisk walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

A good rule is that 1 minute of vigorous activity provides the same health benefits as 2 minutes of moderate activity.

One way to do your recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes on 5 days every week.

All adults should also break up long periods of sitting with light activity.

Source: NHS 



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