7,000 steps a day are enough
The latest studies indicate that most of the healthy benefits are obtained when reaching the figure of 7,000 steps a day and they rule out the idea that exceeding this figure by a large amount increases the probability of living for more years.
How many steps must be taken a day to improve health and to reduce the risk of a premature death? This recurrent question, which is repeated even more frequently in these times of watches, wristbands and technological devices that monitor health, now has an answer. 7,000 steps a day, the equivalent of carrying out 35-40 minutes of exercise a day, or 2.5 hours a week, is the solution, according to two studies published recently that have analysed the impact of physical activity and its relation to longevity after analysing patients for over more than two decades.
In September, the magazine JAMA Network Open published a report led by the University of Massachusetts that reduced the mythical and repeated figure from 10,000 steps to 7,000. The researchers’ premise lay in asking if less than 10,000 steps could also have an impact on living longer. After analysing the data from a wide and long-running study on health and heart disease (2,110 participants using an activity tracker), the researchers observed a close link between the number of steps and mortality.
The men and women who accumulated at least 7,000 steps a day when they joined the study ten years ago, had 50% less chances of having died than those who walked less than 7,000 steps. In addition, the risks of mortality continued dropping as they increased the number of steps, until reaching a 70% probability of premature death amongst those who took 9,000 steps. The other surprising fact is that it was unusual for the participants who walked over 10,000 steps a day, or even many more, to have longer lives than those who ‘only’ walked the 7,000 steps.
The same figure of activity for living longer and better was published in another study in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings magazine. They collected data from a cardiovascular study in Copenhagen (Denmark), which had recruited 8,697 Danes from the decade of the nineties and asked them how many hours a week did they do sport or exercise. 20 years later, after comparing the participants’ deaths, the researchers noted that those who were exercising (2.5 hours a week) when they joined the study had a 40% less chance of having died during this period than the more sedentary, less active people.
In the same way, the study emphasises the fact that the benefits of exceeding the figure of 10,000 steps are no greater when talking about mortality and it adds that, on certain occasions, they even decrease in comparison to people who exercise up to 7,000 steps a day. Both studies coincide in underscoring that physical activity is a healthy habit that is associated with a longer life expectancy.