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Health benefits of 10,000 steps are enhanced with a faster pace

A recent study has confirmed that the goal of reaching 10,000 steps a day is an ideal target for optimal health outcomes. The experts also found that it’s not just how far you walk, but also how fast, that makes a difference.

For the investigation, the researchers monitored 78,500 adults with activity trackers. To date, these are the largest studies to objectively track steps in relation to health outcomes.

Study senior author Emmanuel Stamatakis is a professor of Physical Activity, Lifestyle and Population Health at the University of Sydney.

“Step count is easily understood and widely used by the public to track activity levels thanks to the growing popularity of fitness trackers and apps, but rarely do people think about the pace of their steps,” said Professor Stamatakis.

“Findings from these studies could inform the first formal step-based physical activity guidelines and help develop effective public health programs aimed at preventing chronic disease.”

The experts found that walking 10,000 steps per day is associated with a reduced risk of dementia, heart disease, cancer and premature death. Furthermore, participants who walked at a faster pace showed benefits above and beyond the number of steps achieved.

“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 from the University of Sydney.

“For less active individuals, our study also demonstrates that as low as 3,800 steps a day can cut the risk of dementia by 25 percent,” noted co-lead author Professor Borja del Pozo Cruz from the University of Southern Denmark.

According to the researchers, every 2,000 steps lowered the risk of premature death incrementally by 8 to 11 percent – up to around 10,000 steps a day. The results were similar for cardiovascular disease and cancer incidence.

The analysis showed that a higher number of steps per day was associated with a lower risk of all-cause dementia. In addition, a faster pace was linked to a reduced risk of dementia, heart disease, cancer, and premature death.

“The size and scope of these studies using wrist-worn trackers makes it the most robust evidence to date suggesting that 10,000 steps a day is the sweet spot for health benefits and walking faster is associated with additional benefits,” said Dr. Ahmadi.

“Going forward more research with longer-term use of trackers will shed more light on the health benefits associated with certain levels and intensity of daily stepping.”

The study is published in the journal 

JAMA Internal Medicine.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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