Walking 4000 steps is enough to improve health

An international study has revealed that walking regularly can reduce the risk of death, even if you take just 3,967 steps a day. Researchers conducted an analysis of the physical activity of more than 200,000 people with an average age of 64 years.

A recent study has revealed that the number of daily steps needed to start experiencing health benefits is lower than previously believed. This research was based on the analysis of 17 different studies conducted around the world to date.

Among the conclusions of the article published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, it has been highlighted that walking at least 3 steps a day begins to reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases.

A group of researchers led by cardiologist Maciej Banach from the University of Lodz in Poland, carried out a study to analyze the physical activity of 226,889 individuals. The goal was to confirm that there are greater health benefits the more you walk.

The more we walk, the lower the risk of dying from any cause or cardiovascular disease. According to evidence, it has been shown that every 500 to 1 additional steps we take daily significantly reduces this risk. In particular, increasing by 000 steps a day has been found to be associated with a 1% reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality.

Other studies agree

Banach—also a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine—says that his study shows that these health improvements apply “to both men and women, regardless of age and whether they live in a temperate region, subtropical or subpolar region of the world, or in a region with varying climates.”

“Until now it was not clear what the optimal number of steps was, both in terms of the cut-off points from which we can begin to see health benefits, and the upper limit, if there is one,” Ibadete Bytyçi, lead author

A group of scientists has done calculations and concluded that even if people walk up to 20,000 steps a day, the health benefits continue to increase.

In this sense, lead author Ibadete Bytyçi, from the Kosovo University Clinical Center in Pristina, Kosovo, maintains that, "until now, it was not clear what the optimal number of steps was, both in terms of the points of cut-off point from which we can begin to see health benefits, such as the upper limit, if there is one, and the role that this plays in people's health.

In his view, the availability of data on step counts up to 20,000 a day was limited. Therefore, it is necessary to confirm these results in larger groups of people to obtain solid validation.

End sedentary lifestyle

There is strong evidence to support the claim that leading a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to an increase in cardiovascular diseases and shorten life expectancy. Various studies have shown that more than 25% of the world's population is affected by a lack of physical activity adequate.

In relation to lack of physical activity, it is important to highlight that there are more women than men (32% versus 23%) and a greater proportion of inactive people in high-income countries compared to those in low-income countries (37% versus 16%).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), lack of physical activity is among the leading causes of death globally. It is estimated that approximately 3,2 million deaths per year are related to a sedentary lifestyle. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on physical activity, and despite two years passing, activity levels have not yet fully recovered.

Personalize lifestyle changes

In this meta-analysis it has been possible to analyze whether there are differences depending on age, sex or geographical location in which one resides. Participants were followed for an average period of seven years. It is important to note that the average age of the participants was 64 years and 49% of them were women.

In the case of people over 60 years of age, it was found that the decrease in the risk of death was smaller compared to those who are under 60 years of age.

A study of older adults found that those who walked between 6,000 and 10,000 steps a day had a 42% reduced risk. On the other hand, a 7,000% risk reduction was seen in younger adults who walked between 13,000 and 49 steps a day.

“We still need good studies to investigate whether these benefits may exist for intense types of effort, such as running marathons, and in different populations of different ages and with various associated health problems,” Maciej Banach, principal investigator.

Studies and medications are lacking, but walking is important

Banach highlights the importance of having increasingly sophisticated medications to treat specific conditions such as cardiovascular diseases in today's world, it should also be "emphasized that lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, could be at least "less as effective or even more effective in reducing cardiovascular risk and prolonging life."

In the opinion of the professor of Cardiology, “we still need good studies to investigate whether these benefits may exist for intense types of effort, such as running marathons and physical challenges.” Iron Man, and in different populations of different ages, and with various associated health problems.” However, he admits, “as with drug treatments, it seems we should always think about personalizing lifestyle changes.”

The authors of the research point out an important limitation: it is an observational study. This means that they cannot conclusively demonstrate that a greater number of steps causes a reduction in the risk of death, but only that there is an association between this activity and the decrease in risk.

In relation to the impact of step counting, it is important to note that the studies carried out to date have focused mainly on healthy people. Therefore, its effectiveness in people with different diseases has not been verified. Furthermore, it is important to note that differences in race and socioeconomic status, as well as the different methods used to count steps, were not considered in this meta-analysis. These variables could have varied between the different studies included in the analysis.

With information agenciesinc.es