Why You Don’t Have To Do 10,000 Steps A Day… As Long As You Walk Fast!

Research suggests that the speed you walk may be more important than the total number of steps you take when it comes to staving off disease.

Studies over the years have shown that 10,000 daily steps is the place to lower your risk of early death — no matter how quickly you do it.

But experts in Denmark and Australia have found that increasing your speed may reduce your risk further, even if you take fewer steps.

In the largest research of its kind, researchers monitored 78,500 Britons over the age of 40 between 2013 and 2015 using wearable fitness trackers.

One study found that 9,800 daily steps at an informal pace were ideal for reducing the risk of dementia, cutting it in half.

But doing just 6,300 at high speed made people 57 percent less likely to have the condition. For power walkers, the risk was up to 62 percent lower.

In a second study, researchers found that walking every 2,000 steps per day reduced the risk of early death by about a tenth.

But walking at a faster pace was associated with a greater protective effect.

Research suggests that the speed you walk may be more important than the total number of steps when it comes to preventing disease.

Research suggests that the speed you walk may be more important than the total number of steps when it comes to preventing disease.

Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis, senior author of the study and public health expert at the University of Sydney, said: ‘The step count is easy to understand and is widely used by the public to track activity levels thanks to the growing popularity of fitness trackers and apps but rarely do. People think about the pace of their steps.

How much exercise do you need, according to the NHS

To stay healthy, adults between the ages of 19 and 64 should try to be active daily and should do the following:

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as biking or brisk walking each week and
  • Strength training two or more days a week working all major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, arms)

or:

  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as running or an individual tennis match each week and
  • Strength training two or more days a week working all major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, arms)

or:

  • A combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity each week – eg, 2 x 30 minutes of running plus 30 minutes of brisk walking equals 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and
  • Strength training two or more days a week working all major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, arms)

A good rule of thumb is that one minute of vigorous activity provides the same health benefits as two minutes of moderate activity.

One way to do the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week is to do 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days each week.

All adults should also break up long periods of sitting with light activity.

source: NHS

Dr Matthew Ahmadi, co-author and research at the university added: “The message we’re taking home here is that for preventative health benefits, people can ideally not only aim for 10,000 steps per day, but also aim to walk faster.”

He added: “The size and scope of these studies using wrist trackers make them the strongest evidence to date suggesting that 10,000 steps per day is the ideal location for health benefits and faster walking is associated with additional benefits.”

Participants in the studies, with an average age of 61, wore a wrist accelerometer to measure physical activity over seven days.

Their step count was compared to medical records and death certificates seven years later.

Only those who were free of heart disease, cancer, or dementia in the first two years of the study were included in the final analysis.

Researchers found that people who walk approximately 3,800 steps per day at any speed reduce their chances of developing dementia by 25 percent.

The researchers said this highlights how even a little can go a long way when it comes to exercise.

But the optimal number of steps per day, regardless of speed, was found to be 9,826, which reduces risk by 51 percent.

People who walked “for a purpose” — at a pace of more than 40 steps per minute — had a 57 percent protective effect with just 6,315 steps per day.

The largest reduction in dementia risk (62 percent) was achieved by people who walked at a very fast pace of 112 steps per minute for at least 30 minutes a day.

In the second study of the same participants, researchers found that every 2,000 daily steps reduced the risk of early death by between 8 and 11 percent — up to 10,000 steps.

A similar association was observed for cardiovascular disease and cancer diagnosis.

The researchers said that faster pace was ‘consistently associated with lower risk across all outcomes, beyond the benefit of total daily steps’.

The magic goal of 10,000 steps per day is believed to have been invented by a 1954 Japanese marketing campaign to sell the pedometer.

But for decades, research has come in favor of this goal, finding between 7,000 and 10,000 per day to be optimal.

Walking maintains a healthy weight and pumps blood through the arteries, triggering self-renewal processes that keep them free of plaque.

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