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Put on your walking shoes and don’t forget your step counter: you can reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and premature death by taking up to 10,000 steps a day, but any amount of walking helps , according to a new study.
The health benefits increased with each step, according to the study, but peaked at 10,000 steps — after that, the effects faded. Counting steps can be especially important for people who engage in unstructured and unplanned physical activity, such as housework, gardening, and dog walking.
“Notably, we detected an association between incidental milestones (steps taken to go about daily life) and a lower risk of cancer and heart disease,” noted study co-author Borja del Pozo Cruz, Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, Denmark, and Senior Researcher in Health Sciences for the University of Cadiz in Spain.
“Overall, I think the study is well done and certainly continues to add to the knowledge base that tells us exercise is a good thing,” said Dr Andrew Freeman, director in Cardiovascular Prevention and Wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver. , Colorado. He did not participate in the research.
“Physical activity is absolutely beautiful,” Freeman said. “And when if you mix that with more plant-based eating, de-stressing, getting enough sleep, and connecting with others — that’s your magic recipe. It’s the fountain of youth, if you will.
Del Pozo Cruz and his team recently published a similar study that found that walking 10,000 steps a day reduced the risk of dementia by 50%. The risk fell by 25% with as few as 3,800 steps per day, according to the previous study.
However, if walking was done at a sustained pace of 112 steps per minute for 30 minutes, this maximized the risk reduction, leading to a 62% reduction in dementia risk. The 30-minute brisk walk also didn’t have to happen all at once – it could be spread out over the day.
“Our view is that intensity of progression matters – beyond volume,” del Pozo Cruz said via email.
The new study, published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, followed 78,500 people aged 40 to 79 from England, Scotland and Wales who wore wrist-mounted step counters 24 hours a day on a seven day period.
After counting each person’s total steps each day, the researchers categorized them into two categories: less than 40 steps per minute – which is more of a stroll, like when you walk from room to room – and more than 40 steps per minute. , or so-called “intentional” walk.
A third category was created for top performers – those who took the most steps per minute in 30 minutes over the course of a day (although, again, those 30 minutes do not have to occur in sequence ).
About seven years later, the researchers compared that data to medical records and found that people who took the most steps per minute — in this case, about 80 steps per minute — had the greatest reduction in cancer risk, heart disease and premature death from any cause. .
The researchers found that the association between the maximum number of 30-minute steps and risk reduction depended on the disease studied.
“We observed a 62% reduction for dementia: this figure was almost 80% for mortality and the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and much less (about 20%) for cancer,” said del Pozo Cruz per E-mail.
“It may be related to specific pathways through which physical activity is beneficial,” he said. “It pushes the body in general: can generate more muscles, a bigger heart and better physical shape, which are all known protective factors against cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as other health problems.”
What’s the takeaway? You don’t have to worry about the number of steps (unless you really want to), Freeman said.
“Does every step count? Absolutely. And we know that walking briskly every day brings additional benefits in terms of blood pressure reduction and cardiovascular training, etc. said Freeman, who was the founding chair of the Nutrition & Lifestyle Task Force at the American College of Cardiology.
“But the truth is that the same goal has always applied: challenge yourself, whatever your fitness level. Obviously, check with your doctor first, but your goal is to become out of breath for 30 minutes every day.
What is shortness of breath when applied to exercise? It’s not panting and panting so hard you can barely breathe. Instead, shortness of breath occurs when you’re walking with someone, they’re talking to you, and you’re having a little trouble responding, Freeman said.
“Spend 30 minutes running out of steam at whatever pace you go, then keep challenging yourself to be slightly unsatisfied at your current level so you can get better and better,” Freeman said.
Being more physically active often stimulates other healthy habits, such as better eating, and discourages unhealthy ones, such as smoking, he added.
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