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Home Health Why you DON’T need to worry if you fall short of 10,000 steps a day… just make sure you get at least 4,000

Why you DON’T need to worry if you fall short of 10,000 steps a day… just make sure you get at least 4,000

by nytime
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Don’t worry too much if you don’t hit the target of 10,000 steps a day — just under 4,000 could be enough to reduce your risk of an early death.

A groundbreaking scientific review, based on almost 227,000 healthy people from 17 separate studies, found the risk of dying early could be reduced in people who walk at least 3,867 steps a day.

It shows people who manage less than 5,000 daily steps, who health experts previously called ‘sedentary’, are probably still doing themselves good.

The craze for recording daily steps, on smart phones and smart watches, has seen 10,000 steps adopted as most people’s target.

But the review also found people’s risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, such as heart attacks and strokes, starts to reduce if they manage at least 2,337 steps a day.

A groundbreaking scientific review, based on almost 227,000 healthy people from 17 separate studies, found the risk of dying early could be reduced in people who walk at least 3,867 steps a day

A groundbreaking scientific review, based on almost 227,000 healthy people from 17 separate studies, found the risk of dying early could be reduced in people who walk at least 3,867 steps a day

This means the current recommendations may need to be looked at again, according to the researchers, although they emphasise that the more steps people take the better.

Professor Maciej Banach, who led the study from the Medical University of Lodz in Poland, said: ‘People enjoy tracking their daily steps, and are proud when they increase the number.

‘It is a good way to achieve the critical lifestyle changes which may reduce the risk of dying.

‘We found that this applied to both men and women, irrespective of age.’

The review, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, looked at studies, including six from the UK, in which people’s daily steps were measured for at least a full week.

These people, with an average age of 64, were followed up for an average of seven years to see how many died early, from any cause, or from cardiovascular disease.

This allowed researchers to work out how many steps a day were taken by people who did not die early, compared to the daily step count of those who died.

As a result, they could estimate the minimum number of daily steps needed to fall into the group of people who are less likely to die early.

They found at least 3,867 steps a day, and at least 2,337 steps a day, were the point at which a lower risk of death from any cause, and from cardiovascular disease, appeared to begin.

However the more steps someone can manage each day, the better, the study found, with every 1,000 extra steps a day someone took linked to a 15 per cent reduction in their risk of dying prematurely for any reason.

Every 500 extra steps a day was linked to a seven per cent reduction in the likelihood of dying from cardiovascular disease.

The average person in the UK achieved 5,444 daily steps before Covid, although people may now be slightly more inactive after habits changed during the pandemic.

Being active keeps blood vessels healthy, making a heart attack or stroke less likely.

The studies looked at people who walked up to 20,000 steps a day, and more steps were linked to a lower chance of dying early right up to the full 20,000 steps.

It is unclear if doing more steps would continue to be even better, or if the health effects would level off past a certain amount.

However steps seem to be better for people under the age of 60, who maybe benefit from having had a healthier lifestyle earlier in life.

Professor Banach said: ‘Our analysis indicates that as little as 4,000 steps a day are needed to significantly reduce deaths from any cause, and even fewer to reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease.

‘In a world where we have more and more advanced drugs to target specific conditions such as cardiovascular disease, I believe we should always emphasise that lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, which was a main hero of our analysis, might be at least as, or even more effective in reducing cardiovascular risk and prolonging lives.’

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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