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10,000 steps a day can lower risk of heart disease for almost everyone

By Dennis Thompson, HealhDay News
The more steps a person can fit into their day, the lower their risk of early death and heart disease, regardless of how much a couch potato they are otherwise, a new British study shows. Photo by Tomek/Pixabay
The more steps a person can fit into their day, the lower their risk of early death and heart disease, regardless of how much a couch potato they are otherwise, a new British study shows. Photo by Tomek/Pixabay

The more steps a person can fit into their day, the lower their risk of early death and heart disease, regardless of how much a couch potato they are otherwise, a new study shows.

People who are sedentary for more than 11 hours a day gain the same health benefits from walking more as more active folks do, researchers found.

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The optimal number of daily steps to improve health was between 9,000 and 10,000, researchers said. That amount of walking lowered risk of death by 39% and heart disease risk by 21%.

However, half of that benefit was achieved with half the effort, at around 4,000 to 4,500 steps a day, researchers found.

Essentially, any steps above 2,200 daily were associated with lower risk of death and reduced heart disease risk.

"Our results indicate sedentary time did not significantly modify the dose-response association of daily steps," concluded the research team led by Matthew Ahmadi, a postdoctoral research fellow with the University of Sydney in Australia.

"We also found the amount of physical activity [e.g., steps/day] needed to lower the risk of mortality and incident [heart disease] may be lower than previously suggested," the researchers added in a journal news release.

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For the study, researchers analyzed data on more than 72,000 participants in UK Biobank, a major biomedical database created as part of a long-term research project.

All of the participants included in this analysis had worn a motion tracker for seven days, to measure their physical activity.

The average daily step count for all participants was a little more than 6,200 steps. The lowest 5% of participants averaged 2,200 steps daily, so researchers set that as the bottom point for reference.

Average sedentary time was 10.6 hours a day, so researchers judged people to be highly sedentary if they sat around for 10.5 hours a day or more. Those who sat around less than that were considered to be less sedentary.

After about seven years follow-up, 1,633 deaths and 6,190 heart-related events like heart attack or stroke occurred, researchers said.

The new study was published March 5 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

More information

The National Institutes of Health has more about daily steps for better health.

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