7500 steps a day may help elderly women live longer
Study shows that an average of two miles a day prolongs your life

Photo by Kevin Tristan Espiritu for Manila Bulletin

In trying to achieve healthy weight and fitness, many people try to set a daily goal of 10,000 steps (or five miles), but it’s still unclear if such a goal is appropriate for everyone, and how much intensity or speed matter when calculating the benefits in each step.

A new study finds that, for elderly women, being able to walk about two miles a day can help them live longer than those who are less active.

More steps, less risk

Researchers followed nearly 17,000 women in their early 70s for at least four days, and based on accelerometers that they wore, participants logged an average of 5,499 daily steps – around 2.5 miles. Following up in 4.3 years, 504 women died; but those walked at least 4,363 steps daily were 41% less likely to die than those logged just 2,718 steps.

“Even a modest amount of steps is associated with lower mortality,” said lead study author Dr. I-Min Lee of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, “More steps taken per day were associated with even lower mortality rates until about 7,500 steps/day,” noting that it was the number of steps that matters and not the rates.

By the numbers

Additional data from the accelerometers showed that:

  • women averaged a peak 1-minute step intensity of 92 steps/minute, and;
  • averaged peak 30-minute intensity of 58 steps/minute
  • women spent 51% of their time not taking steps, and;
  • 46% of the time was moving at a pace no more than 39 steps/minute
  • women spent 3% moving at a pace of at least 40 steps/minute

Health benefits

According to Keith Diaz from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City who wasn’t involved in the study, the results are “good news for older adults who may have difficulty walking at faster paces.” “Any walking is better than nothing. With even small amounts of walking, your risk of death will be sharply reduced,” Diaz said.

“For those who have difficulty walking, other research shows that any form of aerobic activity provides health benefits. Swimming, bicycling, arm cranking or any form of activity that is continuous in nature will provide health benefits,” ended Diaz.

Story from Reuters.

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