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10,000 steps a day? That’s only if you’re under 60

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Do you really need to walk 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy?  It all depends on your age: if you’re over 60, walking 8000 steps will probably be enough, and only younger people should be aiming for the 10,000-step target.

The 10,000-steps guide has become an urban myth that was the name of a Japanese pedometer, but there is very little science behind it.

So researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst decided to find out just how many steps we should be walking every day.  They reviewed 15 studies that had tracked more than 50,000 people to discover the impact of steps walked on their health and longevity.

The age of the people seemed to be a key determinant; those who were 60 and older didn’t get any additional health benefits from walking more than 8000 steps a day, although younger people did reduce their risk of premature death by walking up to 10,000 steps.  

The risk of premature death fell by up to 53 percent in both age groups among those who met their daily targets.

But the speed of walking didn’t seem to matter too much; it was just the steps walked that promoted health and longevity, the researchers found.

“The major takeaway is there’s a lot of evidence suggesting that moving even a little more is beneficial, particularly for those doing very little activity,” said Amanda Paluch, one of the researchers.

(Source: Lancet Public Health, 2022; 7: e219; doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(21)00302-9)

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Article Topics: Demography, Gerontology, Walking
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