Heart Disease Risk Can Be Reduced by Walking Even Less than 5,000 Steps

Walking Health Benefits Reassessed

A recent analysis shows that the health benefits of walking daily are less than what was previously believed. According to the study, walking 3967 steps daily reduced the chance of dying from any cause. 2337 steps daily decreased the likelihood of dying of cardiovascular disease.

The analysis of 17 studies involving 226 889 people from around the world has revealed, however, that health benefits increase with increased steps. Every 500-1000 steps taken increases the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease or any other cause. A daily increase in steps of up to 1000 steps is linked with a reduced mortality risk by 15%. An additional 500 daily steps reduces the risk of cardiovascular death by 7%.

The health benefits continued to increase even when individuals took up to 20,000 steps per day. There hasn’t yet been a limit. Results confirm that more walking is better for both men and women, no matter their age or whether they live in temperate, subtropical, or subpolar climates or mixed climate regions.

According to the analysis, a daily walk of 4,000 steps is enough to reduce any type of mortality. This number drops even lower for cardiovascular diseases.

The Dangers of Inactivity

Significant evidence exists that shows a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. Over 25% of people in the world are affected by inadequate physical activity, according to research. Women are more likely to be inactive than men, and those in higher-income countries tend to do less physical exercise. According to WHO statistics, physical inactivity is responsible for 3.2 million deaths per year. The COVID-19 Pandemic also caused a decline in physical activity, and levels have not recovered.

There is no consensus on the optimal number of steps to take before experiencing health benefits, nor the maximum limit or how it contributes towards health. The data was limited and only up to 20,000 steps per day. These results need to be confirmed in larger groups.

The meta-analysis examined the effects of walking 20,000 steps per day, as well as if differences were found based on sex or age. It also looked at the countries in which the people lived.

Study Details

Participants in the analyses were monitored for an average of 7 years. Participants averaged 64 years old, with 49% of them being female. Individuals older than 60 were less likely to die compared with those younger. The risk of heart disease was reduced by 42% in older people who walked between 6,000 to 10,000 steps daily, while the risk was decreased by 49% in young individuals who walked between 7,000 and 13,000.

Meta-analysis was a large study, and it did not limit itself to studies that only measured up to 16,000 steps per day. It was only an observational research, so it couldn’t prove that an increased step count led to a reduced risk of dying.

All the participants were healthy at the start of the study. It was not possible to account for the differences in race and socio-economic status, nor could the method of counting steps be the same across all studies.

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