Ten thousand steps per day is a nice round number that’s taken on a legendary status. But is this legend myth or reality?
There is plenty of research to show that walking is one of the best chances you can give yourself to extend your life and reduce the risk for a host of diseases. And getting around 10,000 can make a real difference.
Now you don’t necessarily need to aim for 10,000. Benefits start kicking in around 3,000 and go up to about 10,000 – with the sweet spot around 5,000. But even if you go over 5,000, the benefits increase, just not as drastically.
For every 2,000 steps you take, up to about 10,000, your risk of early death can drop between 8 and 11 percent. So, getting close to 10,000 can maximize the benefit, but if you’re inactive and can’t take that many, every step counts, and it’s never too late to get going.
The new study affirming the benefits of walking was published in JAMA Internal Medicine and drew on data from 78,500 adults in the UK between the ages of 40 and 79. They were followed for seven years and wore wrist sensors for seven days to track physical activity.
The study found that 9,800 steps per day cut dementia risk by 40 percent, but just 3,800 steps cut it by 25 percent.
Results weren’t just about the number of steps each day. Pace matters, too. Walking at a brisker pace – around 80 steps per minute – brought the greatest reduction in dementia, heart disease, and premature death risk.
Walking throughout the day is the best approach. Sure, heading out for a walk can net you a few thousand, but including activity and movement into your day can help you pile up steps without even thinking about it.
What are some of the ways walking can contribute to longevity? It may:
- Improve circulation
- Strengthen bones
- Improve mood
- Strengthen muscles
- Promote weight loss
- Improve sleep
- Support joints
- Reduce dementia risk
- Slow mental decline
- Boost independence