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Dr. Tori Hudson, Portland, Oregon, Blog Healthline Blog

Side view of young black businesswoman walking in the city, London UK, full lengthMost all of us are familiar with the concept that we need 10,000 steps per day to achieve health benefits. A recent study was done to investigate further the optimal number of steps daily, as well as intensity required for health benefits. This observational study was conducted in 16,700 women with a mean age of 72, who used accelerometers for at least 10 hours daily for several days at the entry into the study. Women were assessed annually over a follow-up period of 4.3 years. Lower mortality was associated with more daily steps with a median of 5,500 steps daily. Compared with the women who were the least active, about 2,700 steps per day, women in the range of 4,400 steps daily had a 46% lower all-cause mortality and women who recorded about 5,900 steps per day had a 53% lower mortality. The women in the highest step group, about 8,400 steps per day, had a 66% lower mortality. More than 7,500 steps per day had not added mortality benefit and there was no association between mortality and speed of steps/walking.

Commentary: While I don’t really want to be an advocate of lowering the amount of daily steps/exercise I do think it is important to realized that even about half the customary 10,000 steps per day has mortality benefits, and 7,500 steps per day has optimal mortality benefits. We walk more or less on any given day, due to the demands or our lives, or the excuses we concoct, but these current results are comforting and provide a good basic guideline for how to help ourselves improve our longevity. And don’t forget, walking is a therapeutic tool for depression, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pre-diabetes, diabetes, history of cardiac disease and PMS. Plus… good for the soul, good for the planet. And when we are driving, let’s respect the pedestrian!!!!! They are doing a good thing……oh… and pedestrians…how about…no texting and walking, follow walk signals and crosswalks…. bicyclists and e-scooters— we’ll save you for another time…but no matter the mode of transportation, let’s not contribute to each other’s mortality!!!

Reference: Lee I-M, et al. Association of step volume and intensity with all-cause mortality in older women. JAMA Intern Med 2019; May 29 (e-pub).

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