Take 8,000 steps a day and you may be increasing your odds of a longer life – or so suggests new research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute on Aging and the National Cancer Institute, published recently in JAMA.
The researchers found that, compared with people who walk 4,000 steps (roughly two miles) a day, those who walk 8,000 steps (four miles) a day are about half as likely to die in the next 10 years for any reason, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Walk even more – 12,000 steps, or six miles, a day – and your chances of dying in that time frame drop from 51 percent lower to 65 percent lower than two-mile-a-day walkers.
The findings stem from the analysis of data on a nationally representative sample of 4,840 U.S. residents 40 and older. They wore a device, called an accelerometer, on their hip that recorded data for about a week on the number of steps they took each day, and were then were tracked for about the next 10 years. In that time, 1,165 participants died. Regardless of age, sex or race, the more steps taken, the lower the risk for dying.
The intensity or cadence of a person’s walk – how many steps taken in a minute – had no independent effect on the person’s mortality risk. Rather, what mattered was the number of steps taken. The finding adds credence to the calls for people to become more physically active, to sit less and move more, which can be challenging for those dealing with coronavirus stay-at-home orders or more restrictive quarantines.
The current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which recommend that adults do moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, include suggestions for simple ways to add steps to your daily routine – even now -such as taking a walk or hike (while keeping your distance from others), getting your garden ready for spring planting and dance lessons (which can be done virtually).