Walking 9,800 steps each day was linked to a 50% lower risk of dementia.
The research tracked 78,500 participants using wearable trackers, making it the largest study to systematically track step counts in relation to health outcomes. The studies have been published in journals JAMA internal medicine and JAMA Neurology.
Researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia and the University of Southern Denmark have found that walking 10,000 steps a day reduces the risk of dementia, heart disease, cancer and death. Brisk walking, however, has shown benefits beyond the number of steps completed.
“The take-home message here is that for protective health benefits, people could not only ideally aim for 10,000 steps per day, but also aim to walk faster,” said co-lead author Dr Matthew Ahmadi, a researcher at Charles University in Sydney. Perkins Center and Faculty of Medicine and Health.
“For people who are less active, our study also demonstrates that as little as 3,800 steps per day can reduce the risk of dementia by 25%,” said co-lead author, Associate Professor Borja del Pozo Cruz of the University of Southern Denmark and Senior Health Researcher at the University of Cadiz.
- Every 2,000 steps gradually reduced the risk of premature death by 8-11%, up to about 10,000 steps per day.
- Similar associations were observed for cardiovascular disease and cancer incidence.
- A higher number of steps per day was associated with a lower risk of dementia from all causes
- 9,800 steps was the optimal dose linked to a 50% lower risk of dementia, however, the risk was reduced by 25% at just 3,800 steps per day
- Step intensity or faster pace showed beneficial associations for all outcomes (dementia, heart disease, cancer, and death) beyond total daily step count.
“Step counts are easily understood and widely used by the public to track activity levels thanks to the growing popularity of fitness trackers and apps, but people rarely think about the pace of their steps,” said the lead author Emmanuel Stamatakis, physical activity teacher. , Lifestyle and Population Health at the University of Sydney.
“Findings from these studies could inform the first formal stage-based physical activity guidelines and help develop effective public health programs aimed at preventing chronic disease.”
How was the study conducted?
The research used data from the UK Biobank to link step count data from 78,500 UK participants aged 40-79 with health outcomes 7 years later. For seven days (minimum 3 days, including one weekend day and monitoring during sleep periods), participants wore wrist accelerometers to track their physical activity.
Through a number of data sources and registries, such as inpatient hospital records, primary care records, and cancer and death registries, this information was linked to participants’ health records with an endorsement. ethics.
Only individuals who had no history of dementia, cancer or cardiovascular disease at the start of the trial and who had remained healthy for the first two years were evaluated at the end. Statistical adjustments were also applied to account for confounding factors such as those who walk more steps generally move faster.
The researchers note that the studies are observational, meaning they cannot show direct cause and effect, however, note the strong and consistent associations seen in both population-level studies.
“The size and scope of these studies using wrist-worn trackers make them the strongest evidence to date suggesting that 10,000 steps per day is the sweet spot for health benefits and that walking faster is associated with added benefits,” said Dr. Matthew Ahmadi.
“Further research with longer term use of trackers will further illuminate the health benefits associated with certain levels and intensity of daily walking.”
“Prospective associations of daily step count and intensity with cancer and cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality and all-cause mortality” by Borja del Pozo Cruz, Ph.D., Matthew N. Ahmadi, Ph .D., I-Min Lee, MBBS, ScD, and Emmanuel Stamatakis, Ph.D., September 12, 2022, JAMA internal medicine.
“Association of daily step count and intensity with onset dementia in 78,430 adults living in the UK” by Borja del Pozo Cruz, Ph.D., Matthew Ahmadi, Ph.D., Sharon L. Naismith, Ph.D. and Emmanuel Stamatakis, Ph.D., September 6, 2022, JAMA Neurology.
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