Counting your steps for each day is a good way to keep a record of your physical activity. There are many apps and gadgets that help to do it. Research-based evidence suggests that physical activity is good for health and longevity.
For most people, the daily step goal is 10,000. But the recent cohort study led by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital finds more to it.
The team states that even 4,400 steps a day also help to reduce health risks. The risk of death further decreases with an average of 7,500 steps a day.
These research findings are presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting. They are published in JAMA Internal Medicine and available online to read.
Taking ten thousand steps a day seems impossible to many people. But even a modest number of steps also lower the mortality rate, especially in older women. This study highlights the importance of physical activity on overall health. The number of steps should not be maximum but close to average to show effects.
As per previous studies, an average American person takes 4000 to 5000 steps each day. There is no clear history behind this 10,000-step goal. Back in 1960s, a Japanese company launched a pedometer names amanopo-kei, which literally means 10,000 steps meter in the Japanese language.
In this study, the participants were from Women’s Health Study which was a randomized trial to study the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer in women taking low dose aspirin and Vit E.
After the original trial, the same participants were invited for this long term study.
Till the date, around 18,000 women were tracked by wearing ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometer gadget. It is a research grade sports device which people wear on their hips for seven days a week, during the walking time.
The research team investigated 16,741 women with an average age of 72 years for four years. During this time, some 505 women expired. The results were collected at three levels. At the bottom level (2,700 steps a day) women were at a high risk of death. Those who walked more steps (4,400 steps a day) were having a low risk of death and other health risks.
The risk was minimum in those who walked 7,500 steps daily. The researchers also found that women who walk the same steps every day, the intensity (despite fast or slow) had no risk of death.
This study was only observational and there was no such detailed correlation study between steps per day and health. However, they added various factors to ensure results such as cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, cholesterol, etc.
These studies support the previous studies which tell that physical activity has numerous short term and long term benefits on health including blood pressure
The participants of this study were older, white women. It is not necessary for the younger and diverse ethnic women to show the same results. More factors such as quality of life, diseases, and nutrition should also be considered for deep analysis.
The study authors believe that no single study stands out alone. Every experiment is one step close to accurate results. This way, every study, regardless of its size and limitations matters a lot.
Clearly, this study tells that a modest number of steps taken by older women reduce the mortality rate. This is encouraging news for people who walk 7,500 or more per day. The National Institutes of Health made the funding of this study.